Hitachi (Australian train)

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For other trains known as Hitachis, see Hitachi (disambiguation)#Trains.
Hitachi at Merri creek bridge.jpg
A Metro Trains refurbished Hitachi crosses Merri Creek
Refurbished Hitachi interior
In service December 1972–September 2008
November 2008–April 2014
Manufacturer Commonwealth Engineering (electrics), Bayswater (bodies), Martin & King Somerton ('M' car fitout), Newport Workshops (fitout and Trailers)
Replaced Swing Door cars, Tait cars
Constructed 1972–1981
Scrapped 2003–2014
Number built 118 (3 car sets)
Number preserved 48 (3 car sets)
Formation M-T-T-M D-M, later M-T-M M-T-M
Fleet numbers 273–300 (Motors), 1901–2017 (Trailers), 1–237 (Former Motor Numbers), 301-368 (Former Driving Trailers)
Capacity 536 seated (6 car)
Operator(s) Historically Victorian Railways and successors, MTA, PTC, M>Train, Connex and Metro Trains Melbourne
Depot(s) Newport Workshops (late 2015)
Line(s) served All Melbourne suburban
Car body construction Fluted stainless steel
Car length 23,406 mm (76 ft 9.5 in) over couplers
Width 2,972 mm (9 ft 9.0 in)
Height 3,759 mm (12 ft 4.0 in), not including pantograph
Floor height 1,194 mm (3 ft 11.0 in)
Articulated sections Open gangway
Maximum speed 113 km/h (70 mph)
Weight 41 tonnes (40 long tons; 45 short tons)
Traction system 4 x Hitachi HS 834 Springbourne (150 hp or 110 kW) per M car
Power output 450 kW (600 hp) per M car
1,790 kW (2,400 hp) per 6 car set
Acceleration 0.85 m/s2 (2.8 ft/s2)
Electric system(s) 1.5 kV DC Overhead line
Current collection method Stone-Faiveley ‘V’-type pantograph (original builds)
Metropolitan-Vickers 'Diamond'-type pantograph (used as replacements)
Coupling system Janney coupler
Track gauge 1,600 mm (5 ft 3 in)

Hitachi electric multiple unit trains operated on the suburban railway network of Melbourne, Australia between 1972 and 2014. Electrical equipment was supplied by Commonwealth Engineering to designs by Hitachi of Japan, leading to their official name today, though no actual Hitachi-supplied components were used in their construction. Hitachi trains have been also known as Martin & King or Stainless Steel trains officially,[1][2] They were the last suburban trains in Melbourne with no air conditioning, and with windows that could be opened.


Hitachi in green The Met livery near Middle Footscray

The single-deck Hitachi trains operated as ‘M-T-M-M-T-M’ sets of six carriages (two coupled sets of three carriages arranged with two motorised carriages on either end of a motorless ‘trailer’ carriage).

Based on a successful trial of longer Harris trailer cars built between 1967 and 1971, the Hitachi train used carriages 22.86 m (75.0 ft) long, up from the standard 17.98 m (59.0 ft) length of the earlier suburban cars.[3] The revised carriage design enabled a six car Hitachi train to seat 560 passengers, up from 540 for a seven car Harris train. The maximum load for a Hitachi was 1,500 passengers, 300 more than a Harris.[2]

As delivered, Hitachi trains were composed of three types of carriage, M (motor carriages including a driver's cabin at one end), T (trailer carriages with no motors), and D (a trailer carriage with a small driver's cabin). These cars were arranged in sets of M-T-T-M and M-D, which could be arranged together to create a six car set. All but one of the #68 D carriages produced were later converted into T carriages. (The exception being D #353 was involved in a collision at Pakenham, that also resulted in the scrapping of Guard's Van Z 286) The first M and D carriages delivered were provided with nose doors at the front of the cab. These were later removed from the early carriages, and the feature was omitted from later sets.

The previous carriage configurations were replaced by the current symmetrical three- and six-carriage setup by the late 1970s for the opening of the City Loop. A total of 355 carriages were built, although one of these was to replace a carriage written off in an accident while the fleet was still being delivered.


Two Hitachis in Metro Trains Melbourne livery

Intended to replace the first generation of electric trains, the Swing Door and Tait trains, the stainless steel Hitachi trains were the first Melbourne suburban trains to feature heated carriages and power-closing doors[3] (operated by the guard, opened by the passengers by hand). The M and D carriages were built by Martin & King, and the T carriages by the Victorian Railways.

The first Hitachi train to operate in revenue service was the four-carriage set #1M-#901T-#902T-#2M, on the St Kilda line (now converted to light rail), on 24 December 1972. The 237 motor carriages that have been in service have been numbered #1M through #237M, and the 117 trailer carriages, #1901T through #2017T. On 15 August 2009, the remaining Hitachi carriages were renumbered in order to make way for the second order of X'Trapolis trains, which would also start from #1. The remaining M cars were renumbered from 273M up to 300M, however the new numbering does not reflect the age of each car. The numbering reflects which T car is in each set, the lowest numbered T car receives the lowest numbered M cars, in order of which M car was already the lowest (for example, #2007T was the highest-numbered T car, so #23M was renumbered 299M as it was lower than #233M, which was renumbered #300M).

Carriages originally ran in a plain stainless silver livery, receiving green and gold side stripe with the introduction of the Metropolitan Transit Authority, the side logos being altered with the re-branding as The Met. The side logos were again altered with the introduction of Hillside Trains and Bayside Trains, with the latter also applying branding to the front.[4] When the carriages were refurbished under Connex, the green and gold livery was removed, restoring the carriages to their original ‘silver’ colour, with the addition of Connex blue and gold striping on the lower section of the leading cars, and two blue and gold panels behind the driver's cab. The seats in the passenger area also received new fabric, similar to that of an Alstom refurbished Comeng. With the introduction of Metro, the Connex logos were covered up with Metro stickers.

During the mid-1990s, over half of the Hitachi M cars received cab upgrades, with improved air-conditioning in the driver's cab and double-thickness windscreens with aluminium replacing the original rubber surrounds. After these upgrades were made, the non-upgraded M cars were no longer allowed to lead a train in revenue service, effectively making them B units. Another minor refurbishment was made to the interior, replacing the woodgrain upper panels and bone-coloured roof with off-white panels. In addition to the panel replacement, luggage racks and advertising boards were removed and seat bases were repainted to match the off-white walls. Two M cars have since been preserved in their original unmodified form, while a third M car (#187M) as modified by the PTC is on static display at the AHRS Museum in Williamstown. In 2008, the remaining seven 6-car trains were again modified, mainly with a more powerful driver's air-conditioning system replacing the twin white ‘pancake’ vents on the roof, however three other ‘leading’ cars (#9M, #89M and #225M, now #277M, #281M and #296M respectively) were left without the 2008 modifications and relegated to being in the centre of the trains indefinitely.

Retirement and refurbishment[edit]

Hitachi being scrapped at Brooklyn in Melbourne's western suburbs in 2005
Connex Melbourne refurbished Hitachi at Flinders Street
Interior of an Hitachi carriage, refurbished during the 1990s

New X'Trapolis and Siemens train were progressively introduced from 2002 to replace the ageing Hitachi fleet. The last Hitachi train was withdrawn from service in 2014.[5] The X'Trapolis and Siemens trains have features such as push button operated doors and air conditioning, the lack of the latter feature making the Hitachis unpopular with Melbourne commuters.[6]

The final six 6-carriage trains were to be withdrawn after the 2006 Commonwealth Games,[7] but instead received a minor refurbishment and were retained until April 2014, due to a high increase in patronage. Withdrawn carriages have either been scrapped, sold to private buyers across Australia, stored, or acquired by railway museums and preservation groups.

A report in February 2007[8] (by which time 31 trains in the Siemens fleet were out of service due to safety concerns) said the Victorian Government was negotiating to lease one 6-carriage set from Elecrail, a rail preservation group and repurchase another 3 carriages from a private seller to supplement the fleet. An additional three 3-car Hitachi trains were purchased back from Australian businessman Mr Horne, by the Victorian government in April 2007 to provide spare parts for the fleet. The Elecrail set re-entered service in December 2007.[9]

Cab air conditioning has since been rolled out to the remaining fleet. In late 2007, Hitachi set #37M-#1979T-#36M - #110M-#1910T-#42M was modified to meet driver union requirements and also re-stickered into Connex livery. All remaining sets have since received the same treatment, as well as a refurbished interior.

In September 2008 Public Transport Safety Victoria withdrew the remaining trains from service due to concerns over corrosion around the doors and floor. A series of tests were to be carried out before the trains were sent to the Ballarat North Workshops for repair work.[10] It was decided to proceed with the repairs as the trains are required under a new timetable introduced in November 2008. The repair work was expected to cost $2 million.[11]

In April 2014, a farewell tour for the Hitachi was held, organised by the Heritage Group Elecrail, in consultation with Metro. The tour encompassed the Craigieburn, South Morang and Sunbury lines. During this event, Public Transport Victoria confirmed that the Hitachi had seen the last of revenue service in Melbourne, with one set likely to be preserved, and the remainder scrapped.[12]

In 2013, three Hitachi motor carriages were put into the new Easey's Restaurants in Collingwood.

During 2015, the remaining seven Hitachi sets had been put into storage at Newport Workshops.

By the end of 2017, all remaining Hitachi units were to move to North Bendigo workshops for long-term storage.

In May 2018, a Hitachi unit (296M-1994T-297M) was sent up to North Bendigo Workshops for long-term storage.


  1. ^ Peter J Vincent - "M - Hitachi/M&K Suburban Motor"
  2. ^ a b VicRail Public Relations (1981). Power Parade. ISBN 0-7241-3323-2. 
  3. ^ a b Lee, Robert (2007). The Railways of Victoria 1854–2004. Melbourne University Publishing Ltd. p. 186. ISBN 978-0-522-85134-2. 
  4. ^ "Prayer is asking for a Hitachi, faith is carrying the camera - Railpage Australia Forums (Melbourne suburban)". Retrieved 2008-06-23. 
  5. ^ "Media Release: X'TRAPOLIS WELCOMED TO MELBOURNE'S RAILWAYS". Retrieved 2008-03-14. 
  6. ^ Moynihan, Stephen (23 April 2007). "Minister defends train buyback". Retrieved 2007-06-21. 
  7. ^ "Media Release: NEW SIEMENS TRAIN HITS THE TRACKS". 6 December 2005. Retrieved 2008-03-16. 
  8. ^ A Dad's Army of shunted carriages called up in crisis, The Age 4 February 2007
  9. ^ "VICSIG - Suburban Trains". Retrieved 2008-03-14. 
  10. ^ Clay Lucas (5 September 2008). "Commuter overcrowding, but silver Hitachi trains taken out of Melbourne's rail system". The Age. Retrieved 2008-09-05. 
  11. ^ Clay Lucas (3 November 2008). "$2m to get city's oldest trains on track". The Age. Retrieved 2008-11-13. 
  12. ^ "Melbourne Farewells Old Trains". Channel 9 News. 12 April 2014. Retrieved 2014-04-13.