The Class 800 Super Express is a type of electro-diesel train used in the United Kingdom, based on the Hitachi A-train design. They have been built by Hitachi since 2015. The first units entered service on the Great Western Main Line (GWML) in October 2017, and will enter service on the East Coast Main Line (ECML) from December 2018.

These trains are being assembled at the Hitachi Newton Aycliffe facility, alongside the related Class 801 electric multiple unit, from bodyshells shipped from the Kasado plant in Japan; no body construction takes place in the UK.[7]

The Class 800 units are known as IETs (Intercity Express Trains), as part of the Intercity Express Programme (IEP). They have been named Azuma, meaning East in Japanese, by future operator Virgin Trains East Coast.

Background and design

As part of the UK Government's Intercity Express Programme (IEP), the Class 800 units are to be partial replacements for the aging InterCity 125 trains which currently operate services on the Great Western Main Line and the East Coast Main Line. The Class 800s are a mixture of electric and electro-diesel multiple units, with the electro-diesel ones being able to draw power from electrified overhead lines where available or power themselves via underfloor diesel generators when outside the electrified network. The train specification requires that this changeover can occur at line speed. Units built for the East Coast Main Line will be primarily electric, while all units built for the Great Western Main Line will be electro-diesel, with the possibility to be converted to electric-only operation by removal of the diesel engines.

The Class 800s are capable of driver only operation when necessary, but guards are to be kept on the units. Door release will be controlled by the drivers, with the guard being responsible for closing them using the control panels in the vestibule area. The driver will then carry out a secondary check of the side of the train before departure using the in-cab television monitors.[8]

Fleet details

A total of 80 train sets will be constructed, with 36 five-car and 21 nine-car units intended for operation with GWR, plus 10 five-car and 13 nine-car with Virgin Trains East Coast.[6]

Class Operator No. Built Year Built Cars per Set Unit nos.
Class 800/0[9][10] GWR 36 2014-date 5 800001–036
Class 800/1[9][10] Virgin Trains East Coast 1 2015 9 800101
12 TBC 9 800102–113
Class 800/2[9][10] 10 TBC 5 800201–210
Class 800/3[11] GWR 21 2017- 9 800301–321

In March 2016, Virgin Trains East Coast announced that its trains would carry the brand name Azuma, the Japanese word for "East".[12] In June 2016, GWR announced that its trains would be known as Intercity Express Trains.[13]

In July 2016, it was revealed that GWR's intended fleet of Class 801 units were to be converted from pure EMU to bi-mode due to delays in the electrification. Subsequently, these were reclassified as Class 800/3.[11] The original 1.35 m3 (48 cu ft) fuel tanks will also be replaced with larger capacity 1.55 m3 (55 cu ft) tanks.

On 30 June 2016, GWR's test unit (800004) ran from Reading to London Paddington carrying invited dignitaries.[14]

GWR unit 800003 was named Queen Elizabeth II by the monarch herself, in a ceremony at Paddington Station on 14 June 2017.[15] The Queen had arrived at Paddington on the unit, travelling from Slough on the 175th anniversary of the first ever train journey by a reigning monarch, made on the same route by Queen Victoria.[15] The name is carried in the form of a decal, rather than the more traditional cast metal plate; the name Queen Victoria is borne on the other end of the unit[16]

On 10 January 2018, unit 800010 was named Michael Bond in a ceremony at Paddington by his daughter, Karen Jankel. This coincided with the 60th anniversary of the late author's famous Paddington Bear series of children's books, and as such, the other end of the unit bears the bear's name[17].

Introduction into service

The Class 800 trains came into service on the Great Western Main Line on the 16 October 2017.[18] Teething problems surfaced on the inaugural service, with the train running late and an air conditioning unit discharging water into a carriage.[19] Following further problems, the units were withdrawn from service for one day on 19 October, then re-entered service the next day.[20]

The units will enter service on the East Coast Main Line from December 2018.[21][22][23]


Despite being underfloor, the generator units (GU) have diesel engines of V12 formation. The Class 801 has one GU for a 5-9 car set. These provide emergency power for limited traction and auxiliaries if the power supply from the overhead line fails. The class 800/802 electro-diesel or Bi-Mode has 3 GU per five car set and 5 GU per nine car set. A 5 car set has a GU situated under vehicles 2/3/4 respectively and a 9 car set has a GU situated under vehicles 2/3/5/7/8 respectively .[24]



See also


  1. ^ a b c d [1][dead link]
  2. ^ Hale, Robert (16 May 2017). "Rail watchdog welcomes news of hourly train services linking Worcestershire, Cotswolds and London". Malvern Gazette. Newsquest. Retrieved 18 January 2018. new InterCity Express Trains will provide us for the first time with a regular hourly service between Worcester and London 
  3. ^ Abbott, James (February 2018). Modern Railways (Volume 75 Number 833 ed.). Key Publishing. pp. 8–9. and services on the Cotswold line 
  4. ^ "AT300 for the West of England". Hitachirail-eu.com. Retrieved 11 October 2017. 
  5. ^ a b [2][dead link]
  6. ^ a b Pritchard, Robert (February 2016). "The Future for Intercity Travel". Today's Railways. Platform 5 (170): 40–43. 
  7. ^ Government gives green light for more state-of-the-art intercity trains, Department for Transport, 18 July 2013 
  8. ^ "RMT ACCEPTS GWR’S IEP OPERATION PLANS" Modern Railways July 2017 Volume 74 Number 826 page 10
  9. ^ a b c "EMU Formations". AbRail. AbRail. Retrieved 18 November 2015. 
  10. ^ a b c "First Class 800 'Super Express Train' arrives in the UK" (PDF). The Railway Magazine. Vol. 161 no. 1369. April 2015. pp. 6–7. Retrieved 12 January 2016. 
  11. ^ a b "Great Western bi-mode '801s' to be reclassified as Class '800/3s'". Rail. Peterborough: Bauer Media. 20 July 2016. p. 33. 
  12. ^ "Edinburgh to London train journey time to be cut to four hours". BBC News. 18 March 2016. Retrieved 18 March 2016. 
  13. ^ "Great Western Railway unveils first of fleet of new trains". Home.bt.com. Retrieved 2016-07-04. 
  14. ^ "IEP train keeps royal appointment for anniversary special". Railmagazine.com. Retrieved 11 October 2017. 
  15. ^ a b "HM The Queen names new Intercity Express Train Queen Elizabeth II". Gwr.com. Retrieved 9 October 2017. 
  16. ^ Paddington Station 24/7. Series 1. Episode 6. 9 October 2017. Channel 5. 
  17. ^ "New Intercity Express Train to be named after Paddington Bear author Michael Bond". www.gwr.com. Retrieved 2018-02-13. 
  18. ^ Europe, Hitachi Rail (4:39 AM - 16 Oct 2017). "Our British-built intercity trains carried @GWRHelp passengers for the first time todaypic.twitter.com/CX8vYwqqYA". @HitachiRailEU. Retrieved 2017-10-16.  Check date values in: date= (help)
  19. ^ "Fault delays new high-speed train's first journey from Bristol to London". BBC News Online. Retrieved 17 October 2017. 
  20. ^ "New 'leaking' London to Cardiff trains taken out of service". BBC News Online. 19 October 2017. Retrieved 20 October 2017. 
  21. ^ https://www.railnews.co.uk/news/2017/10/11-speculation-grows-about-network-rail.html
  22. ^ "Great Western Railway: Your questions on Hitachi 800 high-speed trains". 
  23. ^ "VTEC confirms December 2018 start date for Azumas". Railmagazine.com. Retrieved 11 October 2017. 
  24. ^ http://www.hitachi.com/rev/pdf/2014/r2014_10_105.pdf

External links