£60m bi-mode train deal for Hull Trains
A £60m agreement has been signed between FirstGroup and Hitachi Rail Europe for five new AT300 Inter City trains, each comprising five carriages. Financed by Angel Trains, the new vehicles will provide 61 extra seats per train, increasing capacity by more than 20%, and will include air conditioning, Wi-Fi and power sockets.

The new vehicles, which are capable of running under either electric or diesel power, will begin entering service in 2019 on the electrified East Coast Main Line from London King’s Cross, and then on diesel power on the unelectrified line to Hull and Beverley. With a higher top speed of 140mph, they also offer the potential for faster journeys.

As part of the agreement, Hitachi is to provide maintenance for the trains at its new facility at Bounds Green, north London. The trains will be manufactured at Newton Aycliffe, County Durham.

Karen Boswell, managing director of Hitachi Rail Europe said: “Using our innovative bi-mode power model, these trains can begin operation immediately on the UK rail network which means passengers won’t have to wait to enjoy the new benefits.”

New Thameslink trains begin running from St Albans and Luton
new-thameslinkThe rollout of the latest Siemens Class 700 Desiro City trains has continued on Thameslink services. New eight-carriage units began operating on the Wimbledon and Sutton loop on 31 October, and on stopping services to and from St Albans and Luton.

Delivered as part of the Thameslink Programme, Siemens-built Class 700s replace 29 year old Class 319 trains which are moving to other areas of the network. The first new trains, in 12-carriage formation, went into operation between Bedford and Brighton in June. The rollout will continue until the end of 2018 by which time a total of 115 trains comprising 1,140 cars will have been delivered.

Siemens will provide long-term servicing and maintenance for the fleet from two purpose built new depots: Three Bridges in south London, and Hornsey in the north of the city.

Freightliner honours Battle of Somme heroes
poppyFreightliner has named one of its class 66 diesel locomotives ‘Poppy’ in memory of 15 workers from Buxton Lime Firms (now Tarmac) who served and died in the Battle of the Somme. The naming ceremonytook place at Tarmac’s Tunstead Quarry.

An aluminium cast of a large copper poppy sculpture recently made by three Tarmac Buxton apprentices to commemorate the hundredth anniversary of the Battle of the Somme, was fitted to the side of the loco as a lasting tribute to the quarry men. The sculpture was made using 1916 manufacturing processes and features the names of the workers who lost their lives in the battle.

Poppy will now be seen hauling Tarmac’s wagons of limestone or cement from Tunstead up and down the country.