A new fleet of specially adapted AT300 trains will enter service on the First Great Western network in three years time.
An agreement between Hitachi Rail Europe, Eversholt Rail Group and First Great Western will see 22 five-car and seven nine-car trains adding 1,000 seats to services in the south west. The trains will utilise higher engine operating power to cope with the gradients in Devon and Cornwall. They will run as electric trains between London and Newbury, and are equipped with bigger fuel tanks to make the long distance journeys to Plymouth and Penzance.
The trains are similar in design to Hitachi’s new Intercity Express trains, which are scheduled to enter service on the Great Western Main Line between London and South Wales from 2017.
Says Karen Boswell, managing director of Hitachi Rail Europe, ‘This contract with First Great Western recognises the quality of Hitachi’s high-speed trains and our world class engineering capability.
‘Hitachi Rail Europe is committed to delivering trains for the UK’s fare- paying customers that are genuinely transformative in terms of speed, capacity and comfort. This new fleet will be a revolution in customer experience for those travelling to and from the south west, and we look forward to delivering these Hitachi trains for use from 2018 onwards.’
First Great Western put forward plans for the new trains as part of the deal with the government, announced in March, that will see the operator continue to run services between London Paddington, the Cotswolds, South Wales and the south west until April 2019.
Mark Hopwood, managing director of First Great Western, said, ‘We know how important the railway is to the economies and communities of the south west, and [this] agreement is fantastic news for the region and the rail industry as a whole.
‘These trains will help us deliver faster, more frequent services into the south west, each providing a 14 per cent increase in seats across the routes once they are all in service.’