Hitachi A-train

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JR Kyushu 885 series White Sonic EMU

The Hitachi A-train is a family of rail rolling stock built and designed by Hitachi Rail using a common base and construction techniques. The stock is designed to facilitate a number of product life-cycle improvements including ease of manufacture, increased energy efficiency, and recyclability.


The "A-train" design concept includes several elements. The primary feature is that vehicle car bodies are constructed from double skin aluminium extruded sections, which are friction stir welded,[1] creating a strong body. Other features include hollow, extruded mounting rails on the vehicle body to which modular components are attached.[2]

Initially the A-train family consisted of multiple units designed and built by Hitachi, for use on the railway system in Japan. It comprises trains for both commuter and limited express services. The modular design enables both production and refurbishment to be undertaken faster.[2] Due to the low heat input of friction stir welding, high strength, excellent crashworthiness and minimal distortion can be achieved.

Japanese trains[edit]

Hitachi has provided a number of trains based on the A-train concept for use in Japan:[3]

A-train family overseas[edit]

TEMU1000 at Hualien station, Taiwan, May 2008
The SRT Dark Red Line at Krung Thep Aphiwat Station
The Sentosa Express monorail in Singapore uses A-Train derived monorail cars
Two LNER Class 801 units passing at Northallerton in August 2020
Korail Class 200000 Nuriro EMU

For their products overseas, the Hitachi A-train has different designations by Hitachi depending on their type.[4][5]

  • AT100 = high-density urban trains
  • AT200 = suburban, commuter and regional trains.
  • AT300 = intercity high speed and long-distance trains
  • AT400 = high-speed 'bullet' trains

Hitachi have been marketing the A-train family overseas. Both the Chongqing Monorail in China and the Sentosa Express Monorail in Singapore utilise A-train derived cars.

In 2005 Hitachi received an order from Taiwan Railway Administration (TRA) for six 8-car trains, based on the Japanese 885 series, designated as TEMU1000, for operation on the main line between Taipei and Hualien.[6] Deliveries of the trains began in late 2006, with the first public test of the new trains in March 2007.[7][8] Two more sets were purchased in December 2014, and delivered in early 2016.[9]

In 2007, Korail ordered eight 4-car express trains branded as the Trunk-Line Electric Car (TEC) to Hitachi. The car bodies, bogies and power systems were made in Japan, but were assembled at SLS Heavy Industry in Changwon, Korea. A significant number of the components were replaced by Korean parts. The trains were for deployment on "Rapid Train" services on the Gyeongbu Line and Janghang Line between Seoul Station and Sinchang station, branded Nuriro and with a maximum speed of 150 km/h (93 mph).

In 2018, the Taiwan Railway Administration placed a new order for 50 12-car EMU3000 series sets, to be delivered between 2021 and 2024.[10] The first set was delivered on July 31, 2021, with service entry scheduled for the end of the year.[11]

Between 2019 and 2021, the first Hitachi AT100 units arrived in Bangkok for the SRT Dark Red Line and SRT Light Red Line, which opened on 2 August 2021. These trains are coloured red, and are very reminiscent of a typical Japanese commuter train. 15 units form 6-car sets, while 10 form 4-car sets.

United Kingdom[edit]

The United Kingdom became the first country outside Japan to place a major conventional rail order for Hitachi when Southeastern ordered 29 electric multiple units for use on domestic services on the High Speed 1 line. These are designated as Class 395 units, which are standard gauge with the ability to operate at speeds of up to 225 km/h (140 mph).[2] Southeastern branded these trains as the Javelin, a reference to the 2012 Summer Olympics.[12]

Hitachi gained further ground in the UK market when it was announced in 2009 that an A-train based design similar to that of the Class 395, initially named the Hitachi Super Express, was the preference for the government's Intercity Express Programme tender to replace InterCity 125 and InterCity 225 sets on the Greater Western and InterCity East Coast lines. These units were classified as Class 800 electro-diesel 'bi-mode' units (powered by AC overhead wires where available, and by underfloor diesel generators beyond the extents of electrification) and Class 801 electric multiple units sets powered purely by AC overhead wires. The train specification allows for the conversion of Class 800s to Class 801s, as it is assumed that electrification will continue to expand.[13] The units would form as part of the Hitachi AT300 product, joining the Class 395 in the same family.

Class 395 at St Pancras in 2009

The choice of Hitachi units was controversial, as it would see little final manufacturing in the UK in comparison to the foreign-owned but domestically manufactured Bombardier option,[14] leading to a campaign to reverse the decision. However, it was economics that became a sticking point, with the weight of the design creeping up (though some accused the Department for Transport of producing impossible specification requirements) and reportedly difficult negotiations over the final unit price and production balance between the different power options. The inability or reluctance of the financial markets to provide the necessary capital was the final straw, leading to the announcement in February 2010 of a three-month independent review into the value for money of the programme.[15]

After winning the franchise, Abellio ScotRail announced they would purchase Hitachi AT200 trains (designated as Class 385) for their commuter services.[16]

In March 2015, after the initial order of the Class 800 units, Great Western Railway (or First Great Western as it was at the time) ordered 29 bi-mode Class 802 units which would also join the AT300 product. These units have little difference over the Class 800 units, except that the 802s have a higher power output as-built to cope with gradients in Devon and Cornwall, and have larger fuel tanks. Being bi-mode, they will use overhead electric power between London Paddington and Newbury stations.[17] Having initially ordered 29 units, it was later announced that there would be an increase of up to 36 units on order. The first of the Class 800s entered service with GWR in October 2017 and the first of the Class 802s entered service with GWR in August 2018, with all of the units branded as Intercity Express Trains (IET) by GWR.[18][19]

Class 800 during testing in 2015

The first unit with London North Eastern Railway (the current holder of the InterCity East Coast franchise) entered service in May 2019 after a delay, with their first trains in service being Class 800s. Their Class 801s entered service afterwards in September 2019. Separately from GWR, these trains are branded as Azuma, which is 'east' in Japanese.[20]

Many other UK operators have bought Hitachi AT300 trains, including orders for Class 802 units by TransPennine Express (branded as Nova 1) and Hull Trains (branded as Paragon).[21][22] East Midlands Railway have ordered Class 810 units (branded as Aurora), Lumo purchased Class 803 units and Avanti West Coast have ordered Class 805 and Class 807 units.[23][24][25]

Class Image Type Power Operator Brand No. built
/on order
Cars per
Unit nos. Year built
385/0 AT200 EMU ScotRail eXpress 46 3 385001-385046 2015-2019
385/1 ScotRail eXpress 24 4 385101-385124 2015-2019
395 AT300 [26] Southeastern Javelin 29 6 395001-395029 2007-2009
800/0 Bi-mode Great Western Railway Intercity Express Train (IET) 36 5 800001-800036 2014-2018
800/1 London North Eastern Railway Azuma 13 9 800101-800113 2014-2018
800/2 London North Eastern Railway Azuma 10 5 800201-800210 2014-2018
800/3 Great Western Railway Intercity Express Train (IET) 21 9 800301-800321 2014-2018
801/1 EMU London North Eastern Railway Azuma 12 5 801101-801112 2017-2019
801/2 London North Eastern Railway Azuma 30 9 801201-801230 2017-2019
802/0 Bi-mode Great Western Railway Intercity Express Train (IET) 22 5 802001-802022 2017-2019
802/1 Great Western Railway Intercity Express Train (IET) 14 9 802101-802114 2017-2019
802/2 TransPennine Express Nova 1 19 5 802201-802219 2018-2019
802/3 Hull Trains Paragon 5 5 802301-802305 2019
803 EMU Lumo None 5 5 803001-803005 2020-2021
805 Bi-mode Avanti West Coast None 13 5 805001-805013 2020-Present
807 EMU Avanti West Coast None 10 7 807001-807010 2020-Present
810 Bi-mode East Midlands Railway Aurora 33 5 810001-810033 2020-Present


  1. ^ "History, Principles and Advantages of FSW". Japan Railway & Transport Review (42). Hitachi Transportation Systems: 10–16. Archived from the original on 2011-07-19.
  2. ^ a b c Hitachi's Entry into the European Railway Market - Japan Railway & Transport Review No. 42 (pp.10–16)
  3. ^ "A-trains Delivery Records",, archived from the original on 13 April 2009
  4. ^ "Hitachi unveils modular EMU designs". Railway Gazette International. 2014-07-22. Retrieved 12 March 2015.
  5. ^ "AT300 - Intercity High Speed". Retrieved 2020-01-10.
  6. ^ "Taiwan Railway Administration (TRA) has ordered six tilting A-Train concept emus from Hitachi, Japan, at a cost of about 9 billion yen". International Railway Journal. Archived from the original on 2012-10-23.
  7. ^ "Hitachi is Boosting up Railway System Business in Taiwan". Tilting Train Project. Hitachi. Archived from the original on 2009-07-26.
  8. ^ "TRA conducts test ride of tilting trains". Taipei Times. 2007-03-21.
  9. ^ "台鐵購太魯閣新車 今抵台中港" (in Traditional Chinese). 蘋果日報. 2016-01-12. Archived from the original on 2016-01-19. Retrieved 2021-08-25.
  10. ^ Ibusuki, Shinichiro; Shiga, Yuichi (2019-01-16). "Hitachi wins Taiwan order for 600 train cars". Nikkei Asia. Retrieved 2021-08-25.
  11. ^ Strong, Matthew (2021-07-30). "Taiwan's newest train for east coast service arrives from Japan". Taiwan News. Retrieved 2021-08-25.
  12. ^ "Javelin train speeds into London". BBC News. 2008-12-12. Retrieved 2020-02-28.
  13. ^ "Agility Trains Announced as Preferred Bidder for Intercity Express Programme". Hitachi.
  14. ^ "Anger over new UK trains contract". BBC News. 2009-02-12. Retrieved 2010-05-04.
  15. ^ RAILNEWS. "Government backs away from IEP decision - Railnews - Today's news for Tomorrow's railway". Retrieved 16 April 2018.
  16. ^ "Class 385 for Scotland". Retrieved 2020-04-25.
  17. ^ "First Great Western plans AT300s to Cornwall". Railway Gazette International. 23 March 2015. Retrieved 2015-05-31.
  18. ^ "GWR unveils new fleet of IETs". BT. Archived from the original on 6 July 2016.
  19. ^ "All aboard the new Intercity Express trains that will transform journeys across Britain". GOV.UK. Retrieved 2020-02-28.
  20. ^ "LNER". Brand Cooke. Retrieved 2020-02-28.
  21. ^ Holden, Michael (2019-07-09). "Milestone for Transpennine Express with Nova 1 Trains". RailAdvent. Retrieved 2020-02-28.
  22. ^ "Hull Trains Reveals Name of New Fleet". Retrieved 2020-02-28.
  23. ^ "Aurora brand for East Midlands Railway Class 810 inter-city fleet". Railway Gazette International. Retrieved 2020-10-27.
  24. ^ "East Coast Trains Class 803 production begins". Railway Gazette International. Retrieved 2020-10-27.
  25. ^ "Avanti West Coast confirms new trains for Holyhead and Liverpool as Class 805s and 807s". RailAdvent. 2020-06-09. Retrieved 2020-10-27.
  26. ^ "AT300 - Intercity High Speed". Retrieved 2020-01-10.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]