New high-speed service between London and Edinburgh is confirmed
The news that FirstGroup has procured Hitachi’s latest AT300 125mph intercity electric trains confirms that the new high-speed service will be going ahead.
A new high-quality, low-fare rail link between London and Edinburgh has come a step closer to reality following the completion of a £100 million deal for the trains between FirstGroup and Hitachi Rail, financed by Beacon Rail.
FirstGroup has confirmed an order for five brand new AT300 125mph intercity electric trains and ongoing maintenance.
After securing rights from the Office of Road and Rail, FirstGroup plans to run a new ‘open access’ service between the two capitals, with the aim of encouraging people to use trains rather than planes. Currently two-thirds of journeys between the two capitals are made by air.
Under the plans, customers will benefit from an average fare of less than £25, on-board catering and free Wi-Fi. FirstGroup already operates an open access service – the award-winning Hull Trains. The new service is scheduled to start in Autumn 2021.
Steve Montgomery, First Rail’s Managing Director, said: “We’re excited to announce the next step to providing our high-quality low fare service for customers linking London and Edinburgh. There’s a real gap in the market for truly affordable rail travel between the two capitals – our plans show we are serious about competing with low-cost airlines and opening up rail travel on this key route to thousands of new passengers.
“The new trains we are introducing will provide the highest level of comfort and service, whilst being great for the environment and air quality.”
Hitachi will build the five electric intercity trains of five carriages each. These will offer an additional 400 seats per train; greater comfort with new interiors, air conditioning, Wi-Fi and power sockets; lower emissions and reduced noise; and one standard class of service throughout the train.
Karen Boswell, Managing Director of Hitachi Rail Europe, said: “Our Japanese-bullet train inspired fleet will play a vital role in supporting FirstGroup’s exciting new service. These trains have been designed to increase the number of seats available whilst harnessing the latest in comfort design to boost passenger experiences.
“This deal extends our long-term relationship with FirstGroup, who already use our pioneering intercity trains in other parts of the country to boost reliability and passenger satisfaction.”
As part of the agreement, the new trains will be fully maintained by Hitachi for 10 years.
Rob Dee, Commercial Director of Beacon Rail, said: “Beacon Rail is delighted to be financing, procuring and leasing the new Hitachi Inter-City Trains for FirstGroup’s new London-Edinburgh service. We are delighted to extend our existing relationship with FirstGroup and look forward to working closely with the Hitachi Rail Europe team to deliver a fantastic passenger experience, which will encourage passengers out of planes and onto trains, promoting sustainable travel.”