British Rail Class 800

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British Rail Class 800
A green train with sharp yellow front end
GWR Class 800 units 800008 and 800028 at Bridgwater
Standard class seats in GWR unit 800009.
Standard class seats in GWR unit 800009.
In service
  • 16 October 2017 (GWR)
    2019 (LNER)
Built at
Family nameA-Train
Constructed2014 - present
Number under construction
  • 34 × 9-car sets
  • 46 × 5-car sets
Formation5-car: DPTS-MS-MS-MC-DPTF
North Pole
Stoke Gifford
Bounds Green
Doncaster Carr
Line(s) served
Car body constructionAluminium
Car length26 metres (85 ft 4 in)
Width2.7 metres (8 ft 10 in)
Maximum speed
  • 125 mph (200 km/h)
  • (140 mph, 225 km/h using ETCS in cab signalling)[4]
Weight243 tonnes (5-car),
438 tonnes (9-car)[5]
Axle load15 tonnes[6] (13 tonnes without diesel engine)
Traction system120 kW (160 hp) per axle[1]
Prime mover(s)MTU 12V 1600 R80L
Engine typeV12 diesel
Cylinder count12
Power output560 kW (750 hp) per engine[1]
Acceleration1.6 mph per second (2.5 km/h per second; 0.70m/s/s[1])
Deceleration2.3 mph per second (1.00m/s/s) service, 2.7 mph per second (1.20m/s/s) emergency[1]
Electric system(s)25 kV 50 Hz AC overhead lines
Current collection methodPantograph
Safety system(s)AWS, TPWS, ETCS, ATP
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge
1:^ The engines are fully rated at 700 kW (940 hp), but have been de-rated on these units.[7]

The British Rail Class 800 is a type of bi-mode multiple unit used in the United Kingdom, powered by electric traction motors being capable of operating on electrified track using overhead wires and unelectrified track using diesel generators. The trains are based on the Hitachi A-train design. They have been built by Hitachi since 2014. The first units entered service on the Great Western Main Line (GWML) in October 2017, and will now enter service on the East Coast Main Line (ECML) from 2019 following delays in type testing and concerns over the safety of interconnecting electrical cables between the coaches.[citation needed] The Class 802 is similar but has uprated diesel engines and larger fuel tanks.

These trains are being assembled at the Hitachi Newton Aycliffe facility, alongside the related Class 801 electric multiple unit, from bodyshells shipped from the Kasado plant in Japan; no body construction takes place in the UK.[8]

The Class 800 units are part of the Intercity Express Programme (IEP).[9] On Great Western Railway, they are known as Intercity Express Trains (IET) and when they enter service with London North Eastern Railway, they will be known as Azumas.[10]

Background and design[edit]

As part of the UK Government's Intercity Express Programme (IEP), the Class 800 units are to be partial replacements for the aging InterCity 125 trains which currently operate services on the Great Western Main Line and the East Coast Main Line. The Class 800s are bi-modal multiple units using electric traction motors able to draw power from electrified overhead lines where available or provide the electricity via underfloor diesel generators when outside the electrified network. The train specification requires that this changeover can occur at line speed. As part of the Great Western Main Line order was originally for Class 801s, all Great Western franchise units have the possibility to be converted to electric-only operation by removal of the diesel engines.[11]

The Class 800s are capable of driver only operation when necessary, but guards are to be kept on the units. Door release will be controlled by the drivers, with the guard being responsible for closing the doors using the control panels in the vestibule area. The driver will then carry out a secondary check of the side of the train before departure using the in-cab television monitors.[12]

Fleet details[edit]

A total of 80 train sets will be constructed, with 36 five-car and 21 nine-car units intended for operation with Great Western Railway, plus 10 five-car and 13 nine-car with London North Eastern Railway.[7]

Class Operator No. Built Year Built Cars per Set Unit nos.
Class 800/0[13][14] Great Western Railway 36 2014-2018 5 800001–036
Class 800/1[13][14] London North Eastern Railway 1 2015 9 800101
12 2018 9 800102–113
Class 800/2[13][14] 10 2018 5 800201–210
Class 800/3[15] Great Western Railway 21 2017- 9 800301–321

In March 2016, Virgin Trains East Coast announced that its trains would carry the brand name Azuma, the Japanese word for "East".[16] In June 2016, GWR announced that its trains would be known as Intercity Express Trains.[17] However, due to the early demise of Virgin Trains East Coast, they will not operate the new trains, which will enter service with successor London North Eastern Railway. However, the Azuma brand will be retained by LNER.[18]

In July 2016, it was revealed that GWR's intended fleet of Class 801 units were to be converted from pure EMU to bi-mode due to delays in the electrification. Subsequently, these were reclassified as Class 800/3.[15] The original 1.35 m3 (48 cu ft) fuel tanks will also be replaced with larger capacity 1.55 m3 (55 cu ft) tanks.

On 30 June 2016, GWR's test unit (800004) ran from Reading to London Paddington carrying invited dignitaries.[19]

GWR unit 800003 was named Queen Elizabeth II by the monarch herself, in a ceremony at Paddington station on 14 June 2017.[20] The Queen had arrived at Paddington on the unit, travelling from Slough on the 175th anniversary of the first ever train journey by a reigning monarch, made on the same route by Queen Victoria.[20] The name is carried in the form of a decal, rather than the more traditional cast metal plate; the name Queen Victoria is borne on the other end of the unit[21]

On 10 January 2018, unit 800010 was named Michael Bond in a ceremony at Paddington by his daughter, Karen Jankel. This coincided with the 60th anniversary of the late author's famous Paddington Bear series of children's books, and the other end of the unit carries the bear's name.[22]

Introduction into service[edit]

Class 800s alongside Class 43 HSTs at London Paddington

The Class 800 trains came into service on the Great Western Main Line on the 16 October 2017.[23] Teething problems surfaced on the inaugural service, with the train running late and an air conditioning unit discharging water into a carriage.[24] Following further problems, the units were withdrawn from service for one day on 19 October, then re-entered service the next day.[25]

The units were due to enter service on the East Coast Main Line from December 2018[26][27][28] with LNER after VTEC returned the East Coast franchise to the government, but the introduction has been delayed until 2019.[29] The 800s operated by LNER will keep the 'Azuma' branding VTEC had introduced for the class.


Despite being underfloor, the generator units (GU) have diesel engines of V12 formation. The Class 801 has one GU for a 5-9 car set. These provide emergency power for limited traction and auxiliaries if the power supply from the overhead line fails. The class 800/802 electro-diesel or Bi-Mode has 3 GU per five car set and 5 GU per nine car set. A 5 car set has a GU situated under vehicles 2/3/4 respectively and a 9 car set has a GU situated under vehicles 2/3/5/7/8 respectively.[30]

According to Modern Railways magazine, the limited space available for the GUs has made them prone to overheating. It claims that, on one day in summer 2018, "half the diagrammed units were out of action as engines shut down through overheating".[31]

Named trains[edit]

Great Western Railway's Intercity Express Trains are being named after "inspirational people" who have influenced the regions that the company serves.[32]

Great Western Railway's named / liveried Intercity Express Trains
Unit number Date Name
800003 13 June 2017 Queen Elizabeth II / Queen Victoria[20]
800004 30 June 2016 Isambard Kingdom Brunel / Sir Daniel Gooch[33]
800008 7 June 2018 #trainbow[34]
800009 7 March 2018 Sir Gareth Edwards / John Charles[35]
800010 10 January 2018 Michael Bond / Paddington Bear[22]
800019 22 June 2018 Johnny Johnson / Joy Lofthouse[36]
800020 18 April 2018 Bob Woodward / Elizabeth Ralph[37]
800026 6 August 2018 Don Cameron[38]
800306 9 November 2018 Harold Day DSC / Allan Leonard Lewis VC (Armistice Centenary Commemoration train)[39]


GWR Class 800/0
LNER Class 800/1
LNER Class 800/2
GWR Class 800/3


The new interiors have received praise for the slightly increased leg-room and greater number of tables in Standard Class, compared to the Intercity 125 trains which they are to replace. However, the seats have been heavily criticised for excessive hardness and discomfort on lengthy journeys. They have also received severe criticism for a lower level of comfort for First Class passengers compared to the Intercity 125 trains, and the lack of a buffet counter or restaurant car facilities.[40]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "Development of Class 800/801 High-speed Rolling Stock for UK Intercity Express Programme" (PDF). October 2017.
  2. ^ Hale, Robert (16 May 2017). "Rail watchdog welcomes news of hourly train services linking Worcestershire, Cotswolds and London". Malvern Gazette. Newsquest. Retrieved 18 January 2018. new InterCity Express Trains will provide us for the first time with a regular hourly service between Worcester and London
  3. ^ Abbott, James (February 2018). Modern Railways. Vol. 75 no. 833. Key Publishing. pp. 8–9. and services on the Cotswold line Missing or empty |title= (help)
  4. ^ "AT300 for the West of England". Retrieved 11 October 2017.
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 8 November 2016. Retrieved 7 November 2016.
  7. ^ a b Pritchard, Robert (February 2016). "The Future for Intercity Travel". Today's Railways. No. 170. Platform 5. pp. 40–43.
  8. ^ "Government gives green light for more state-of-the-art intercity trains" (Press release). Department for Transport. 18 July 2013.
  9. ^ "DfT Hitachi Agreement" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-02-19.
  10. ^ "All aboard the new Intercity Express trains that will transform journeys across Britain". 2018-10-16. Retrieved 2018-08-19.
  11. ^ "Great Western Railway gives update on when we will get new express trains". devonlive. Retrieved 28 September 2018.
  12. ^ "RMT ACCEPTS GWR’S IEP OPERATION PLANS" Modern Railways July 2017 Volume 74 Number 826 page 10
  13. ^ a b c "EMU Formations". AbRail. AbRail. Retrieved 18 November 2015.
  14. ^ a b c "First Class 800 'Super Express Train' arrives in the UK" (PDF). The Railway Magazine. Vol. 161 no. 1369. April 2015. pp. 6–7. Archived from the original (PDF) on 3 February 2016. Retrieved 12 January 2016.
  15. ^ a b "Great Western bi-mode '801s' to be reclassified as Class '800/3s'". Rail. Peterborough: Bauer Media. 20 July 2016. p. 33.
  16. ^ "Edinburgh to London train journey time to be cut to four hours". BBC News. 18 March 2016. Retrieved 18 March 2016.
  17. ^ "Great Western Railway unveils first of fleet of new trains". Retrieved 2016-07-04.
  18. ^ "New Hitachi Azuma parked by Stephenson's Rocket in rare sneak peek". Rail Technology Magazine. 22 June 2018. Retrieved 22 June 2018.
  19. ^ "IEP train keeps royal appointment for anniversary special". Retrieved 11 October 2017.
  20. ^ a b c "HM The Queen names new Intercity Express Train Queen Elizabeth II". Retrieved 9 October 2017.
  21. ^ Paddington Station 24/7. Series 1. Episode 6. 9 October 2017. Channel 5.
  22. ^ a b "New Intercity Express Train to be named after Paddington Bear author Michael Bond". Retrieved 2018-02-13.
  23. ^ Europe, Hitachi Rail (16 October 2017). "Our British-built intercity trains carried @GWRHelp passengers for the first time". @HitachiRailEU. Retrieved 2017-10-16.
  24. ^ "Fault delays new high-speed train's first journey from Bristol to London". BBC News Online. Retrieved 17 October 2017.
  25. ^ "New 'leaking' London to Cardiff trains taken out of service". BBC News Online. 19 October 2017. Retrieved 20 October 2017.
  26. ^
  27. ^ "Great Western Railway: Your questions on Hitachi 800 high-speed trains".
  28. ^ "VTEC confirms December 2018 start date for Azumas". Retrieved 11 October 2017.
  29. ^ "LNER cancels December Intercity Express launch". Railnews. 26 October 2018. Retrieved 26 October 2018.
  30. ^
  31. ^ "Too Darned Hot". Modern Railways. Vol. 75 no. 839. August 2018. p. 37.
  32. ^ "Our named Intercity Express Trains | Great Western Railway". Retrieved 2018-04-23.
  33. ^ "Travel has the power to bring us together and expand horizons". The Independent. 2016-07-01. Retrieved 2018-04-23.
  34. ^ "Full steam ahead: rainbow themed train unveiled to celebrate Pride 2018". PinkNews. Retrieved 2018-06-28.
  35. ^ "Train named after Welsh sporting legends". BBC News. 2018-03-07. Retrieved 2018-04-23.
  36. ^ "GWR Class 800 naming honours wartime heroes". Retrieved 2018-06-28.
  37. ^ "Great Western Railway name train after Bristol heroes". RailAdvent. 2018-04-19. Retrieved 2018-04-23.
  38. ^ "Train named after Balloon Fiesta founder". Bristol 24/7. 2018-08-07. Retrieved 2018-08-07.
  39. ^ "GWR mark 100 years since the Great War". London Live. 2018-11-09. Retrieved 2018-11-12.
  40. ^

External links[edit]