East Coast ‘803’ construction underway

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Open access progress: bodyshell of a Class 803 driving car for East Coast Trains at Hitachi’s Newton Aycliffe factory.

Hitachi has begun manufacturing the Class 803s to be introduced by FirstGroup on its East Coast Trains open access service between London and Edinburgh in autumn 2021.

First has ordered 5x5-car EMUs from Hitachi, financed by Beacon Rail, which are being assembled at Hitachi’s Newton Aycliffe factory in County Durham. Hitachi says the construction process incorporates a more extensive manufacturing programme than previous fleets, with the fleet built from empty aluminium shells using MIG welding. The East Coast Trains service will comprise five trains per day between London King’s Cross and Edinburgh, calling at Stevenage, Newcastle and Morpeth, and is intended to attract passengers away from airlines. The ‘803s’ are from Hitachi’s AT300 platform but are all-electric with a small on-board battery and no diesel engines.