Italian plant receives bodyshells for GWR’s second wave of Intercity Express trains
Hitachi Rail’s Italian factory has received the first bodyshells for trains that are destined for the GWR’s Devon and Cornwall route.

Hitachi has orders for a fleet of 93 trains for GWR, and is utilising manufacturing facilities in the UK and Italy to ensure they enter passenger service by the end of 2019.

The first wave of InterCity Express trains is currently being built at Hitachi’s UK manufacturing facility at Newton Aycliffe. They will run on the historic Great Western main line, connecting London to cities including Reading, Bath, Bristol and Cardiff from autumn 2017.

Work has now begun on the second wave of the fleet at Hitachi’s manufacturing facility in Pistoia near Florence. This fleet extension of 36 trains will predominantly run on passenger services connecting London to Devon and Cornwall, and are due to begin operating as far south as Penzance along coastal routes in Devon and Cornwall from 2018. The final train will enter service in 2019.

The new fleet harnesses pioneering Japanese bullet train technology. Passengers can expect more seats, better on-board facilities and shorter journey times. They will also benefit from new on-board technology, including real-time journey updates and seat reservation screens.

The fleet is fitted with bi-mode technology, allowing trains to use diesel and electric power, meaning even whilst infrastructure modernisation takes place passengers can enjoy the benefit of the new trains.

The fleet’s design ensures it can withstand the region’s weather conditions, including routes along the Dawlish coast.

Three test trains (2 x 5 car, 1 x 9 car) from the fleet extension will arrive into Southampton port from summer 2017 to begin testing specific stretches of coastal track. The first newly built train to arrive from Italy will be winter 2017.

Stadler wins £700m contract to replace Merseytravel’s ageing fleet
Merseytravel has awarded Swiss train manufacturer Stadler a £700m contract to build and maintain 52 metro trains for the Merseyrail network in the Liverpool City Region, with an option to manufacture 60 more.

The current Merseytravel fleet is one of the oldest in the UK, averaging almost 40 years of age. This 52 train contract will entirely replace that elderly fleet.

The new four-car trains are due to enter service between 2020 and 2021, with the first unit arriving for testing in the middle of 2019. The trains will have lower floors, only 960mm above rail level, and will be entirely walkthrough, increasing their capacity by 60% to 486 people.

The trains will operate on a 750V DC third rail network but can be retrofitted for 25 kV AC operation and ETCS Level II. They are also equipped with batteries that allow independent movement in the workshop and depot areas.

The new vehicles have been designed specifically for Merseyrail customers, with many features reflecting what people said they wanted in research done by passenger watchdog Transport Focus in 2013.

Intelligent sliding steps combined with infrastructure improvements will virtually eliminate the gap between the platform andthe train, providing step free access at all entrances.

Sensitive door sensors will detect obstructions, while door illuminations will inform passengers when it is safe to embark and alight. Interior fittings will be damage resistant and the exteriors graffiti and spray paint resistant.

Stadler will undertake light and heavy maintenance of the units throughout their 35 year life cycle, from a new purpose built depot at Kirkdale.

Alstom installs latest ETCS technology on Class 313 train
Alstom has completed the upgrade of Atlas 200 ETCS technology on Network Rail’s Class 313 test train, making it compatible with ERTMS Baseline 3.

This follows successful compatibility testing at Network Rail’s ERTMS National Integration Facility in Hertford. The upgraded train will now be used for testing and commissioning work to deliver ERTMS Baseline 3 to the Paddington-Heathrow stretch of the Great Western Main Line by 2017.

The Class 313 upgrade is Alstom’s third UK trainborne contract to install its ERTMS Baseline 3 technology. On trackside, Alstom was recently awarded a €17m contract by Network Rail to provide ETCS for Crossrail between Stockley Junction and Heathrow Terminals 4 and 5.

“The ETCS technology upgrade is a critical step forward in furthering the Digital Railway agenda,” said Michael Flynn, programme director of digital railway, Network Rail.