Japan-based Hitachi has started shipment of the first completed pre-series Class 800 train built for the Intercity Express Programme (IEP) of UK’s Department for Transport (DfT).
First unveiled in November 2014, the train is being shipped from Kasado Works in Kudamatsu City, Yamaguchi Prefecture.
The project comes under a public-private partnership (PPP) scheme led by the UK Department for Transport.
The Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) and Nippon Export and Investment Insurance (NEXI), among other organisations, is providing financial support to the project.
Once the train arrives in the UK in March, it will be equipped with various measurement devices for testing.
From April, the train will undergo running tests and and will be used to train onboard staff.
Hitachi Rail Europe will carry out the running tests on the UK Rail Network to enable acceptance by Agility Trains, which is the special-purpose company that will own the trains.
Agility Trains will provide the operating companies First Great Western and Inter City Railways with the trains.
The train is scheduled to leave from Kobe Port in mid-January and will be further shipped to the UK.
Hitachi is currently building a rail vehicle manufacturing facility at Hitachi Rail Europe in Newton Aycliffe for an approximate investment of £82m.
The construction of the plant, which will manufacture Class 800 series trains, is scheduled to be completed in summer 2015.
The company has already started hiring employees for the train plant and approximately 730 staff members are eventually expected to be hired.
Image: A Class 800 train is being loaded for shipment. Photo: courtesy of Hitachi.