The Anonymous Widower

Hitachi Targets Export Opportunities From Newton Aycliffe

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Rail Magazine.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Very High Speed Trains (VHSTs) built in Britain could be exported to Europe and even further afield from Hitachi’s Newton Aycliffe factory.

The article would appear to confirm, that the AT-300 family of trains is now a family with a very wide reach.

Trains in the family include.

Very High Speed Trains (VHST)

The article states that VHST trains will form part of the AT-300 family.

The big order to be handed out in the UK, is for 54 Classic-Compatible trains for High Speed Two.

The Classic-Compatible trains are described in this section in Wikipedia, by this sentence.

The classic-compatible trains, capable of high speed but built to a British loading gauge, permitting them to leave the high speed track to join conventional routes such as the West Coast Main Line, Midland Main Line and East Coast Main Line. Such trains would allow running of HS2 services to the north of England and Scotland, although these non-tilting trains would run slower than existing tilting trains on conventional track. HS2 Ltd has stated that, because these trains must be specifically designed for the British network and cannot be bought “off-the-shelf”, these conventional trains were expected to be around 50% more expensive, costing around £40 million per train rather than £27 million for the captive stock.

The trains will have the same characteristics as the full-size High Speed Two trains.

  • Maximum speed of 225 mph.
  • Cruising speed of 205 mph on High Speed Two.
  • Length of 200 metres.
  • Ability to work in pairs.
  • A passenger capacity around 500-600 passengers.

A seven-car Class 807 train with twenty-six metre long cars would appear to be a partial match and tick all the boxes, except for the following.

  • The train’s maximum and cruising speeds are well below what is needed.
  • The train is only 182 metres long.
  • The train has a passenger capacity of 453.

Would a train with eight twenty-five metre long cars be a better fit?

  •  The train length would be 200 metres.
  • Twenty-five metre cars would not cause a problem!
  • I estimate the passenger capacity would be 498 seats.

The trains or members of the same family have already shown.

  • They can run on the East Coast, Great Western, Midland and West Coast Main Lines.
  • They can run on High Speed One.
  • They can split and join automatically.
  • When needed they can run on local lines.

If I was Avanti West Coast’s train-Czar, I would be seriously interested in a Classic-Compatible High Speed Two train, that was very similar to one I already had in service. Provided, of course it did what it promised in the specification.

By adjusting the car-length and the number of cars, the Classic-Compatible High Speed Two train can probably made to fit any operators needs.

High Speed Trains (HST)

There are several fleets of these in service.

The picture shows one of LNER’s Hitachi trains going through Oakleigh Park station.

It would appear that the trains can be configured to the customers needs.

  • Trains have been ordered in lengths of five, seven or nine cars, with a maximum length of up to twelve or more cars.
  • Cars have been ordered in lengths of 24 and 26 metres.
  • Some fleets will be fitted with diesel engines for bi-mode operation.

Operating speeds will be as follows.

  • 100 mph operating speed on diesel.
  • 125 mph operating speed on electric power
  • 140 mph operating speed on electric power with in-cab signalling.

The signalling required for 140 mph running, is currently being installed between London Kings Cross and Doncaster.

High Speed Commuter Trains

As high speed lines proliferate, there will be a need for faster commuter trains.

In a few years time, the following lines out of London will see High Speed Trains like those made by Hitachi sharing tracks with commuter trains.

  • East Coast Main Line
  • Midland Main Line
  • West Coast Main Line
  • Great Western Main Line

Already on the Great Western Main Line services to Bedwyn and Oxford are run by Class 800 or Class 802 trains, so these trains could be considered to be High Speed Commuter Trains.

  • Their 125 mph operating speed allows them to mix it, with the other High Speed Trains running into and out of London Paddington.
  • Digital in-cab signalling may allow running of both expresses and High Speed Commuter trains at 140 mph.

Other routes, where they could be used, would include.

  • London Kings Cross and Ely via Cambridge.
  • London Paddington and Cheltenham
  • London Paddington and Westbury
  • London St. Pancras and Corby.
  • Liverpool And Blackpool
  • Liverpool And Crewe

The trains would only be doing the same as already happens on High Speed One.

As more and more High Speed Trains run in the UK on existing 125 mph routes, there will be a greater need to increase the operating speed of commuter trains sharing the routes.

Regional Battery Trains

I described these trains in Hyperdrive Innovation And Hitachi Rail To Develop Battery Tech For Trains.

Their specification is given in this Hitachi infographic.

A Regional Battery Train has the following capabilities on battery power.

  • 100 mph operating speed.
  • Ability to run for 56 miles.

It appears that all AT-300 based trains could be converted into either Regional Battery Trains or AT-300 trains fitted with batteries.

If you take one of Great Western Railway’s Class 802 trains, it will have the following specification.

  • 125 mph operating speed on electric power
  • 140 mph operating speed on electric power with in-cab signalling.

These speeds will be unaffected by fitting batteries, as when running using electrification, the batteries will effectively be more passengers, just as any diesel engines are today.

I also believe that the trains could be Plug-and-Play, with interchangeable diesel engines and battery packs. The train’s operating system would determine how much power was available and drive the car accordingly.

I also believe that Hitachi are being economical with the truth on range on battery power and that if every car was fitted with an intelligent battery pack, on some routes the range could be much greater in a few years.

As an example of their use, Harrogate is eighteen miles from electrification at Leeds. With a range of 56 miles, a Regional Battery Train could do the following.

  • Travel from London Kings Cross to Leeds using the existing electrification.
  • Travel from Leeds to Harrogate and back on battery power.
  • Travel back to London Kings Cross from Leeds using the existing electrification.


  1. Trains would charge their batteries on the run up from London Kings Cross.
  2. Trains would be travelling at up to 125 mph between London Kings Cross and Leeds.
  3. Once in-cab signalling is installed between London and Doncaster, this section could be run at up to 140 mph.

This battery train is no glorified milk-float!

There are other services off high speed lines , that could be handled

  • Bedwyn – 13 miles
  • Harrogate – 18 miles
  • Henley – 4.5 miles
  • Huddersfield – 17 miles
  • Lincoln – 16.5 miles
  • Oxford – 10.5 miles

These are just a few of many examples, which are probably increased by a factor of two or three if you have charging at both ends of route without electrification.


Hitachi have developed a family of high speed trains, that can handle anything from fast commuter trains to very high speed trains.

They also probably have battery options to fit all of them.




October 5, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 3 Comments