THE NEW bi-mode units East Midlands Railway is procuring from Hitachi will be a variant on its AT300 platform with features specific to EMR.

A fleet of 33x5-car sets has been ordered from Hitachi, financed by Rock Rail, and these are due to enter service between April and December 2022. The sets have been dubbed AT300 SXR, the SXR standing for ‘short, extended range’ in recognition of the shorter vehicles of around 24-metre length and the need to match the performance of Class 222 Meridians in diesel mode. Until the overhead wires between St Pancras and Bedford are upgraded by Network Rail for use by electric trains at 125mph, pencilled in for completion in December 2023, operation of the EMR bi-modes under electric power will only be possible between Bedford and Kettering.

Modifications to the standard AT300 design introduced by other operators include the shorter vehicles, with a revised front-end nose to accommodate this, although the cab design will be the same. Each five-car set will be formed as follows:

■ Driving Trailer First (DTF)

■ Motor Composite (MC)

■ Trailer Standard (TS)

■ Motor Standard (MS)

■ Driving Trailer Standard (DTS).

Each five-car set will provide over 300 seats across first and standard class, nearly matching the capacity of a seven-car Class 222. EMR Fleet Director Chris Wright told Modern Railways that in response to complaints about seat comfort the operator is not tied to the current AT300 seat design used on all other ‘80x’ fleets, saying it wants to make the interiors ‘feel special’

Mr Wright said nearly all peak services into London in the morning and leaving London in the evening would be pairs of units in 10-car formations. EMR expects to follow a trend set by other operators in giving a brand name to its new bi-mode fleet; however, amid speculation that the units would be numbered Class 804, Mr Wright said a class number had yet to be allocated.


In the nearer-term, EMR is replacing its nine 2+8 HSTs with nine sets transferred from LNER which have a lesser degree of non-compliance with Persons with Reduced Mobility (PRM) regulations. The first LNER set is likely to enter service early in the New Year, with all the existing EMR sets to be removed by late spring. Three Angel Trains 2+6 sets introduced by the franchise in 2018 are not being withdrawn as part of this plan and are likely to remain with EMR for much of 2020.

A limited among of rebranding will take place on the LNER sets, with EMR planning for only rolling stock to be retained by the franchise long-term to receive the new purple livery (aside from the ‘222’ which was rebranded for the franchise launch in August).

For the Class 222 Meridians, Mr Wright said no major work is planned prior to their withdrawal from EMR at the end of 2022, although EMR is investigating some reconfiguration to redress the balance of first and standard class seating, particularly on the seven-car sets which have three first class carriages.