Japanese company Hitachi's new intercity trains have passed the UK Department for Transport (DfT) tests for integration with its digital technology.

The Class 800s trains were found to be compatible with for use with the digital systems are scheduled to enter passenger service later this year.

Hitachi's UK-built fleet represents one of the first in the country to successfully qualify for deployment using the advanced digital signalling technology.

A test train fitted with the digital technology underwent assessment during different real-life scenarios at Network Rail’s state-of-the-art ERTMS National Integration Facility (ENIF) in Hitchin.

The digital signalling system has been named the European Train Control System (ETCS) and is able to continuously relay information from track-side equipment directly to the driver’s cab.

It will inform drivers regarding any potential threats and advise them to adjust the speed of the vehicle accordingly.

Hitachi’s intercity trains passed various trials using an advanced level of ETCS known as Baseline 3.

Hitachi Rail Europe programme director Andy Rogers said: “Our new trains are helping to transform UK rail by using industry leading technology.

“Passing digital signalling tests is a major breakthrough for the industry and another step towards easing the problem of overcrowding.

"The trains will significantly boost capacity on some of the busiest routes in the country through more seats, greater use of on-board space and pioneering digital technology."

“The trains will significantly boost capacity on some of the busiest routes in the country through more seats, greater use of on-board space and pioneering digital technology.”

Hitachi is currently building and maintaining 122 new trains under the DfT’s £5.7bn Intercity Express Programme (IEP), which looks to replace the aging train fleet with newer, more advanced vehicles.

The new Hitachi trains will begin operation on the Great Western main line later this year, and on the East Coast main line from 2018, under the IEP initiative.

The trains are manufactured at Hitachi’s UK facility at Newton Aycliffe, County Durham.


Image: Hitachi Class 800 train. Photo: courtesy of Hitachi Rail Europe.