Intercity Express Programme
The Intercity Express Programme is an initiative of the Department for Transport (DfT) in the United Kingdom to procure new trains to replace the InterCity 125 fleet on the East Coast Main Line and Great Western Main Line, as well as replacing other trainsets on long distance services from London to places including Cambridge, Oxford, Hull and Weston-super-Mare. There are to be two variants: the Class 800, which are electro-diesel hybrids, and the Class 801, which are electric only.
On 12 February 2009, the DfT announced that Agility Trains, a consortium led by Hitachi, was the preferred bidder, with a train named the Hitachi Super Express. The final decision on the award of contract, and its value and composition, originally expected by early 2009, was delayed by several years: a delay to 2010 was caused by the preparation of plans to electrify part of the rail network, which would affect the final order; in 2010 the decision was delayed until after the 2010 general election, and by an independent 'value for money' report published in July 2010; and in November 2010 the decision was delayed pending a decision on the electrification of part of the rail network. Finally the decision was taken in March 2011 to proceed with the procurement and to electrify the Great Western Main Line.
A £4.5 billion order for 596 carriages for use on the East Coast and Great Western main lines was announced in July 2012; financial close on the first phase, for trains to run on the Great Western routes, was reached at the same time, with closure on the second phase predicted for 2013. A £1.2 billion option for a further 30 nine-car electric trains to replace the Intercity 225 on the East Coast Main Line was taken up on 18 July 2013.
Tender and specifications
The programme to procure a replacement for the Intercity 125 fleet was launched by the Department of Transport in 2005. In March 2007, the Department for Transport published an OJEU notice (2007/S 48-059536, contract title: Intercity Express Programme (IEP), previously referred to as HST2) announcing its intention to seek an organisation to finance, build, construct facilities (depots) for, and maintain over a period of around 30 years a new set of high-speed trains for the UK rail network, to be used by train operating companies. Initial estimates were for an order of between 500 and 2000 vehicles.
The initial official train specifications for the tender were published in November 2007. Three versions of train were asked for: electrically powered via 25kV AC 50 Hz overhead line, a self-powered version, and a 'bi-mode' version.[note 1]
The maximum allowed train length was 312 m, the minimum ('half-length') approximately 130 m. Trainsets were to be available in half-length, full-length (260 m), or intermediate-length versions, with the ability to lengthen and shorten trains in a time which would minimise that spent out of service. Also specified was the ability for multiple working within any vehicle of the class (two units), with the time taken to couple or uncouple being 180 seconds or better, and the ability to convert a bi-mode or self-powered train to an electrically powered version in the future.
The tender contained proposals for trains to enter service at the beginning of 2013, with complete introduction in the first phase on the East Coast Main Line (ECML) by late 2016 and on the Great Western Main Line (GWML) by 2017. The trains were to be used on the ECML and GWML, with possible use on the southern part of the West Coast Mainline (WCML), the Fen Line, and other long distance intercity services. Phase 1 of the tender specified an operational fleet of 24 full- and 13 half-length electric, and 10 full- and 12 half-length trains for the ECML, 24 full-length trains (self-powered), and 38 half-length bi-mode trains for the GWML. Additional trains were expected for Phase 2 of the order: around 15 full-, 14 half-, and 10 intermediate-length trains for the ECML, WCML, GWML and Cross Country routes, as well as the potential for orders of over 20 trains from Transport Scotland.[note 2]
The maximum weight of a full-length train was 362 tonnes (electric), 385 tonnes (bi-mode) and 392 tonnes (self-powered), with expected weights of around 332, 350 and 368 tonnes respectively or better. The minimum top speed was 125 mph (201 km/h), with a minimum acceleration for all subtypes in both full- and half-length formations of over 0.575 m/s2 (1.89 ft/s2) from starting to over 50 km/h (31 mph).
The specification required significant improvements in energy efficiency over Intercity 125 trainsets that were fitted with MTU engines and electric Intercity 225 trainsets; regenerative braking on both self-powered and electric versions was expected to form part of the solution to increase efficiency. Mean distances between failure were expected to be better than 60,000 miles (electric power) and 30,000 miles (self-powered mode).
In November 2007 a contract award was expected in late 2008 or early 2009, with service trials beginning in 2012, and the trains in service on the GWML and ECML by 2015. The first tranche was expected to be for approximately 850 vehicles, with a maximum of 1500 vehicles subject to further orders being given.
On 16 November 2007, the Department for Transport issued its IEP Invitation to Tender to three shortlisted entities: Alstom-Barclays Rail Group; Express Rail Alliance (Bombardier, Siemens, Angel Trains and Babcock & Brown.); and Hitachi Europe. After Alstom withdrew from the bidding in February 2008, Barclays Private Equity re-entered the project on 26 June 2008, four days before the end of the bidding process, as a partner of Hitachi and John Laing, in Agility Trains Ltd.
On 12 February 2009, the Government announced that Agility Trains was the preferred bidder for the contract, with the Siemens-Bombardier consortia as reserve bidders – the value of the contract was then estimated at £7.5bn, including replacements for both Intercity 125 and 225 trains. The decision was criticised for not awarding the contract to the Bombardier/Siemens offer which was expected to have resulted in work for Bombardier's Derby factory. The DfT was also accused of 'spin' in describing the Agility trains consortium as a 'British led consortium'.[note 3] and Hitachi's manufacturing plans attracted concern for reasons such as balance of payments issues, the Japanese domestic railway market being largely closed to foreign entrants, and the extent to which jobs would be safeguarded or created in the UK.
Agility Trains — Hitachi Super Express
The preferred bidder, Agility Trains, offered a design named the Hitachi Super Express Train.
Agility Trains claimed that the proposed designs included a reduction in weight of the train of 15-40% per seat (86 tonnes less in total than an Intercity 125), and reduction in fuel consumption of up to 15%, using a hybrid traction power supply (see also Hayabusa (experimental train)). The trains were to be supplied with either 5 or 10 coaches, with each coach being 26 m long; 3 m longer than British Rail Mk3 and Mk4 coaches.[note 4] Assembly of the trains was to take place in the UK, using Japanese-built bodyshells, with a new factory being established. Additionally new depots for train operations were to be constructed, at sites in Doncaster, Reading, Bristol Parkway, Leeds and North Pole (London).
The full- and half-length trains were to be approximately 260 m and 130 m long respectively – the 26 m carriages were to be of aluminium construction, with the power cars of steel. The quoted tare masses for full length trains (412.5 t for the electric version) exceeded the tender's essential requirements (TS196) by up to 50 tonnes (electric version), power available for traction was quoted at 4MW (all full length versions), with a starting tractive effort of 400 kN, and a maximum acceleration of 0.75 ms−2. Train seating capacity in an intercity layout was 649 in a full length electric train, reduced to 610 in a bimode train and 552 in a self powered train, with standard class seat pitches of 875mm in 'airline' formation, and 1900mm in bay seats. Seat pitch was reduced to 825/1810mm in interurban and commuter layouts. The design had increased seating space in electrically powered versions — with driving power cars also containing passengers.
The train used distributed traction; the end (driving) cars in a train would have contained either transformer and rectifier, or hybrid electrical generation apparatus and rectifier, depending on version, but would not have powered axles. The passenger carriages could be powered, with a traction converter supplied by the train's power bus, or unpowered, trailer vehicles. In ten car trains the formation was (2'2')(Bo'Bo')(2'2')(Bo'Bo')(2'2')(Bo'Bo')(2'2')(Bo'Bo')(Bo'Bo')(2'2'), in five car trans (2'2')(Bo'Bo')(Bo'Bo')(Bo'Bo')(2'2'). The trains could also be configured in formations from 5 to 12 carriages.
By 2010 reduced expectation of usage due to the economic downturn, as well as the expectation of electrification of much of the GWML had changed the composition of the order: the size of the order had been reduce to around 770 carriages; diesel-only trains were no longer required; some longer bi-mode trains would have a second transformer to avoid running under bi-mode power in electrified sections; and a wider variety of train lengths was required, including trains with 5, 7, 8, 9 and 10 carriages.
Hitachi's original design had been modified by the end of 2010 to use under-floor diesel engines for self-power propulsion instead of engines in end-cars; the under-floor diesel engines can be removed, which allows the train to be converted to run only on electric power. Capital costs for the vehicles are approximately £2.8 million per carriage for bi-mode versions and £2.4 million per carriage for electric versions.
The proportions of traction types ordered would depend on decisions regarding further electrification. In late 2007, Network Rail suggested that the DfT should abandon the diesel version of the IEP as emissions regulations and the minimal demand for diesel-powered high-speed trains abroad made it cheaper to electrify lines and operate electric trains than to buy new diesel trains. In January 2009, the Secretary of State for Transport, Geoff Hoon, stated that before finalising procurement plans he would need to consider electrification proposals from Network Rail in terms of cost, financing and benefit. In June 2009 Network Rail published a draft Electrification Strategy recommending electrification of the Midland Main Line and Great Western Main Line through to Oxford and Swansea, followed by some cross-country routes and the Reading to Plymouth Line. On 23 July 2009 the DfT presented plans to electrify the Great Western Main Line from London to Bristol and from Swindon to Swansea. After the Comprehensive Spending Review in October 2010 it was announced the lines from London to Didcot, Oxford and Newbury would be electrified in the following six years. On 1 March 2011 the extension from Didcot to Swindon, Bristol and Cardiff was announced.
On 26 February 2010 the Transport Secretary, Andrew Adonis, announced that contract negotiations could not be completed before the 2010 United Kingdom general election, and a review was to be carried out on the value for money of the contract. Network Rail's commitment to electrify the main line between London and Bristol meant that the original assumptions used when formulating the procurement plan had changed; furthermore, passenger transport figure increases had not met expectations.[note 5] Lord Adonis also blamed lack of financial support from the City. Additionally a planned second phase, to introduce new trains to the specifications in the plan on the West Coast Main Line, was cancelled.
Opposition politicians, industry commentators and the Association of Train Operating Companies were critical of aspects of the scheme, particularly the micromanagement of the proposed trains' specifications, and lack of input from potential operators. Also, the Department for Transport's targets for energy consumption were reported to have been considered impracticable.
In July 2010 the report on the programme by Sir Andrew Foster was published, and the decision on whether to proceed with the programme deferred until after the Spending Review in October 2010 while alternatives were assessed. Other options examined in the report included combinations of: using existing carriages propelled by high-powered electric locomotives, class 377, or re-engineered class 319 or 365 commuter trains on some sections to compensate for demand, the use of class 180 diesel trains on some non-electrified routes, or refurbished Intercity 125s, as well as infill electrification.
On 25 November 2010 the Secretary of State for Transport, Philip Hammond, announced that a final decision on the Intercity Express Programme would be deferred to 2011 along with decisions on further electrification of the rail system. In his report Foster had been critical of the bi-mode concept as untried and untested; two options for the non-electrified sections were being considered: coupling of an all-electric train to a diesel locomotive, or Agility Trains' proposal of bi-mode trains – electric trains with additional underfloor engines. On 1 March 2011 the government announced it was to continue with the programme with Agility Trains as the preferred bidder together with plans to electrify the Great Western Main Line as far as Cardiff; the order, reduced to £4.5bn in value was for approximately 500 carriages.[note 2]
In 2012 the Agility Trains consortia obtained financial backing from lenders including HSBC, Lloyds TSB, Mizuho and Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi; a financing loan for trains for the Great Western Main Line (GWML) of £2.2bn was agreed by July 2012 including £1bn from the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC), with the remainder to come from lenders including HSBC, Lloyds-TSB, Mizuho, The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank Ltd., Mitsubishi UFJ Trust and Banking Corporation and the European Investment Bank (EIB). The project was the first mainline rail project in the UK to be financed through a Public Private Partnership. JBIC loans provided £1000 million of the funding, EIB £235 million, and £1000 million was through loans from the commercial banks - the loan period was 29.5 years. A further £280 million was raised by share issues and share backed loans.
The finalised £4.5 billion contract for trains for the Great Western Main Line and East Coast Main Line (ECML) was announced in July 2012. Financial closure was reached on the first phase of the contract, valued at £2.4bn, consisting of 21 nine-car electric (Class 801) and 36 five-car bi-mode trains (Class 800), 369 carriages total, for use on Great Western routes.[note 6] The second phase of the contract consisted of 10 five-car and 13 nine-car bi-mode and 12 five-car electric units (227 carriages) for use on the ECML; financial closure on the second phase was expected in 2013. A £1.2bn option for further 30 nine-car electric trains (270 carriages) to replace the Intercity 225 on the ECML was taken up on 18 July 2013.
Manufacture and introduction
In 2011 Hitachi chose the site of the UK factory at developer Merchant Place Developments' Amazon Park (later renamed Merchant Park mid 2013.) site in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, close to Heighington railway station and adjacent to the Tees Valley Line.[note 7] Hitachi announced its intention to proceed with construction of the facility in July 2012, after financial closure was achieved for the part of the train order that concerned the GWML.
In late 2012 MTU was announced as the preferred supplier of diesel engines; bi-mode trains are to be fitted with between three and five 700 kW (940 hp) engine generators powered by the 12-cylinder MTU 12V 1600 R80L. Electrically powered trains are also to be fitted with a single powerpack of the same design to be used for auxiliary and emergency power, and for shunting in depots. Other component suppliers included Knorr-Bremse (braking system), Breckneil Willis (pantograph) Televic Rail (passenger information systems), Dellner (gangway, coupler), Voith (gearing), NSK (bearings), Lucchini (wheelset), Signalling Solutions Ltd. (ATP), and Siemens (GSM-R). DCA Design was contracted to produce passenger interior and driving cab mockups for design validation.
In addition to existing service facilities on the GWML and ECML, 4 new depots were required with other depots upgraded for the trains. On the GWML the new depots were at Filton Triangle, Stoke Gifford, at Maliphant Sidings in Swansea, and at the North Pole depot, west London, with EC Harris as project manager. On the ECML Clayhills depot (Aberdeen), and Bounds Green deport (London) were to be upgraded, with a new depot at Doncaster.
Construction of the factory is expected to start in 2013, with train production beginning in 2015 and the plant reaching full production capacity in 2016. It is planned that trains will come into service on the Great Western line in 2017 and on the East Coast Main Line in 2018.
- High Speed 2 – project to build a new high speed rail line connecting London with the Midlands and North of England.
References and notes
- The 'self-powered' version would get power from an in-built power source, assumed to be a diesel engine, and the 'bi-mode' version would be able to either get power from an in-built power source, or be electrically powered when on an electrified part of the rail network.
- Phase 1 represented 895 vehicles based on a 10-car full-length train. Phase 2: 498 vehicles. Additional units included the pre-series trains, and vehicles needed to cover maintenance and other contingencies. A total for phases 1 and 2 combined of around 1400 vehicles based on complete take-up of the order including WCML and Cross Country trains. Potential Transport Scotland orders were up to 29 half-length trains.
- Hitachi (Japan) was the largest contributor to the Agility trains consortium (40%), and significant parts of the manufacturing process including bodyshells and bogies would not be located in the UK.
- A longer carriage allows a train of similar length to be made up of fewer carriages and thus have a lower capital cost. However, the loading gauge of a longer carriage limits where it can operate; infrastructure work may be needed before the carriage can operate over a line.
- By 2010 the phase 1 order had been reduced from ~900 to 700 carriages, mainly due to lower expectations of passenger numbers.(Foster 2010, p. 4, Specification of IEP)
- Note: The Financial Times, "Hitachi secures largest UK train order." gives (incorrectly) order figures of approx 330 GWML and 270 ECML.
- – location of the Hitachi factory, Amazon Park / Merchant Park, Newton Aycliffe
- Foster 2010a, p. 27.
- "Government gives green light for more state-of-the-art intercity trains". Department for Transport. 18 July 2013.
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