First Trenitalia has awarded a £350m contract to Hitachi Rail for the supply and maintenance of 23 intercity trains for the new Avanti West Coast rail service.

The rail service commenced operations on 8 December. First Trenitalia expects the new trains to begin operating on the line from 2022.

Of the 23 trains, ten will be electric trains with seven carriages. The remaining 13 will be bi-mode trains with five carriages.

Electric trains will serve London, the West Midlands and Liverpool. Bi-mode trains will operate on the London to North Wales route. The new intercity operator, Avanti West Coast will operate the trains. First Trenitalia announced the name of the franchise last week.

The trains can operate at a maximum speed of 125mph. Their features include free Wi-Fi, power sockets, wireless charging and USB slots near the seats. The trains are also equipped with real-time passenger information system and offer catering.

The seven-car trains can accommodate 453 seated passengers and the five-car trains have a capacity for 301 seated passengers. The current Class 221 Voyager trains have 258 seats.

Bi-mode trains will use electric power for most of its journey. They will switch to diesel power for the routes that have not been electrified, such as the North Wales Coast Line running to and from Holyhead.

The new trains are also said to lower particulate matter emissions by over 90% and nitrogen oxide emissions by over 60%.

They will be constructed in Newton Aycliffe in north-east England, where Hitachi’s factory is located.

Hitachi Rail group CEO Andrew Barr said: “Based on Japanese bullet train technology, our new trains have proven to be the modern intercity train of choice, increasing passenger satisfaction wherever they run.

“We’re delighted to continue our excellent relationship with FirstGroup and Trenitalia, for whom we’ve delivered hundreds of trains across Italy and the UK. This new order, which will be built at our factory in the North East, is another vote of confidence in the success of our trains, which are both green and reliable.”

First Trenitalia has also appointed Hitachi and Alstom to maintain the trains at the Oxley depot in Wolverhampton.