The new Aurora intercity trains aim to replace the existing EMR intercity fleet. Credit: Hitachi Rail.
The Aurora trains are being manufactured by Hitachi Rail UK. Credit: Hitachi Rail.
The trains are equipped with FISA lean seats for enhanced passenger comfort. Credit: Hitachi Rail.
The Class 810 Aurora trains are expected to be in service by early 2025. Credit: Hitachi Rail.

The Class 810 Aurora trains are being built by global rail solutions provider, Hitachi Rail, in County Durham, UK, for East Midlands Railway (EMR), a train operating company based in England. The new Aurora trains will be delivered to EMR’s Etches Park depot in Derby.

The trains will primarily serve the Midland Main Line, connecting major cities and towns such as Sheffield, Chesterfield, Nottingham, Derby, Leicester, and Lincoln, in addition to Kettering and London St Pancras.

EMR introduced the concept of the Aurora intercity fleet in October 2020, aiming to replace the existing EMR intercity fleet, which is currently limited to diesel engine operation.

The introduction of the Aurora trains, named after the Roman goddess of the dawn, symbolises a fresh start for the East Midlands and South Yorkshire regions.

The name also draws inspiration from the Northern Lights, which are a result of solar energy transferred from the sun.

The Aurora trains are scheduled to enter operations in early 2025. The entire fleet is expected to be in service during the same year.

The fleet will not only modernise the rail services along the Midland Main Line but also contribute to the broader goals of enhancing public transport and reducing reliance on fossil fuels.

Aurora intercity trains design and features

The Class 810 series is based on bullet train technology and consists of five-carriage units that offer 45 first-class seats and 270 standard-class seats.

The trains will be equipped with LEAN seats from Fabbrica Italiana Sedili Autoferroviari (FISA), which have been reworked by DGDESIGN to enhance comfort and support.

The improvements include enlarged cushions, headrests, and armrests, and the use of high-quality, durable materials such as wool-rich moquette and leather to match the expectations associated with intercity service.

The Aurora fleet’s flooring is specifically engineered to be easy to clean, durable enough to withstand high passenger traffic, and simple to maintain.

The tables onboard are constructed to comply with the latest rail safety standards, making them among the safest in the world. The tables feature a new generation of soft close hinge systems that enable them to be folded down in a controlled manner.

Additionally, first-class passengers will have the luxury of Italian-made real wood laminate tables.

LED lighting is used throughout the train, providing a bright and energy-efficient environment.

Technical specifications of Aurora trains

The Class 801 car body is constructed from double-skinned aluminium and are built for both strength and lightweight performance. The full-width cab and bolster-less bogies are engineered to support the train’s high-speed capabilities.

The cars have a maximum operating speed of 201km/h and with the potential to reach a design speed of 225km/h and have a maximum acceleration of 0.75m/s². The trains’ nominal vehicle length will range between 24m to 26m.

Aurora trains will operate on a bi-modal power supply, with the flexibility to utilise either 25kVAC or a diesel engine generator.

The door configuration consists of sliding pocket vehicle/end doors, optimised for passenger flow and safety. The braking system is an electrically actuated pneumatic type, and the standard gauge of 1,435mm is utilised.

Safety features

The trains are equipped with a train protection and warning system (TPWS), which supports the driver by providing crucial signal status information and activating the train’s emergency brakes if a restricted signal is passed.

The automatic power control (APC) safety system is another critical component that prevents the train from drawing power in neutral sections of the overhead line, thereby averting potential electrical arcing.

Facilities available at Aurora trains

The Aurora trains include air conditioning and complimentary Wi-Fi access throughout the train, enhanced mobile phone signal reception, ample luggage space, and electrical plug sockets. The passenger information screens will also be upgraded for better communication.

The trains will feature power and USB points, spacious legroom, coat hooks, and seat-back tables suitable for all airline seats. Each seat will also provide space for a cabin-sized bag underneath, ensuring convenience for travellers.

Catering services will see an improvement, with a more consistent seven-day offering available in both first and standard-class compartments.

Sustainability features

The new intercity bi-mode trains are designed to be quieter and more environmentally friendly, contributing to lower carbon emissions and a more pleasant experience for passengers, as well as residents in the vicinity of the stations and along the route.

The trains are equipped to operate on electric overhead lines wherever available, leveraging the £1.5bn ($2bn) investment in the Midland Main Line upgrade.

When operating in diesel mode, the trains are expected to reduce harmful emissions, specifically particulate matter, by up to 90% compared to the legacy high-speed trains.


The project achieved financial closure in August 2019, with secured funding from Rock Rail and Japan Infrastructure Initiative amounting to £400m. The fleet will be financed through Rock Rail, a rolling stock company based in the UK, and leased to Abellio for the franchise’s lifespan.

Hitachi Rail’s UK factory will see a £110m investment to introduce new painting and welding facilities.

Aviva Investors, the global asset management business of Aviva, played a pivotal role in the financing by providing senior debt in a $486m deal towards the new train fleet for Abellio UK’s EMR franchise. Aviva Investors emerged as the principal funder within the consortium of investors.

Contractors involved

A Derby-based agency, DGDESIGN, is responsible for creating the interiors of the Aurora fleet.

The folding tables onboard were manufactured by Puricelli, an Italian designer and sustainable surface manufacturer.

FISA, an Italian company providing seats and interiors for railways, supplied lean seats for the Aurora intercity fleet.

Baker Bellfield, a company based in Telford, secured the contract to supply a variety of tables for the Aurora fleet, integrating into Hitachi Rail’s UK supply chain.

Stauff, renowned for its hydraulic system components, is supplying essential products for the Aurora Fleet, including specialist clamping solutions and flexible hose assemblies.

Mors Smitt, a manufacturer based in Burton upon Trent, will provide AWS, TPWS, and APC systems for the trains.

Forbo Flooring Systems, a global entity known for its commercial floor coverings, has been selected to supply flooring parts for the Aurora fleet, contributing to the overall design and functionality of the trains.

EMR signed a contract in July 2019 with Abellio, a Dutch public transport company, for the supply of 33 five-carriage trains. The company subsequently contracted Hitachi Rail to build the new fleet.