British Rail Class 800

The British Rail Class 800 is a type of bi-mode multiple unit designed and produced by Hitachi for Great Western Railway and London North Eastern Railway. They use electric motors for traction, but in addition to operating on track with overhead electric wires, they have diesel generators to enable them to operate on unelectrified track. Based on the Hitachi A-train design, the trains have been built by Hitachi since 2014.

British Rail Class 800 AT300
LNER Azuma 800105 at London Kings Cross
Standard class seats in GWR unit 800009.
In service
  • 16 October 2017 (GWR)
    15 May 2019 (LNER)
Built at
Family nameA-Train
Constructed2014 - 2018
Number under construction
  • 34 × 9-car sets
  • 59 × 5-car sets
Formation5-car: DPTS-MS-MS-MC-DPTF
CapacityGWR: 5 car set: 290 standard, 36 first class - 9 car set: 580 standard, 70 first class
LNER: 5 car set: 254 standard, 48 first class - 9 car set: 510 standard, 101 first class
North Pole
Stoke Gifford
Bounds Green
Doncaster Carr
Line(s) served
Car body constructionAluminium
Car length26 m (85 ft 3 58 in)
Width2.7 m (8 ft 10 14 in)
Maximum speed
  • 125 mph (201 km/h)
  • (140 mph, 225 km/h using ETCS in cab signalling)[4]
Weight243 tonnes (239 long tons; 268 short tons) (5-car),
438 tonnes (431 long tons; 483 short tons) (9-car)[5]
Axle load15 tonnes (14.8 long tons; 16.5 short tons)[6] (13 tonnes [12.8 long tons; 14.3 short tons] 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 on LNER units. Engines uprated to the full 700 kW (940 hp) on GWR units.
Acceleration1.6 mph/s (2.6 km/(h⋅s)); 0.70 m/s/s[1])
Deceleration2.3 mph/s (3.7 km/(h⋅s)) service, 2.7 mph/s (1.2 m/s/s) emergency[1]
Electric system(s)25 kV 50 Hz AC overhead lines
Current collection methodPantograph
Safety system(s)AWS, TPWS, ETCS, ATP (GWR Units)
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]

These trains are being assembled at the Hitachi Newton Aycliffe facility, alongside the related Class 801 from bodyshells shipped from the Kasado plant in Japan; no body construction takes place in the UK.[8] Alongside their resemblance to the Class 801, the units are also very similar to the Class 802 units, which in difference have uprated diesel engines and larger fuel tanks.

The train is part of the Intercity Express Programme (IEP) and is in the Hitachi AT300 product family.[9][10] Train operating companies have also given the train separate brands; on Great Western Railway, they are known as Intercity Express Trains (IET)[11] and on London North Eastern Railway, they are known as Azumas.[12]

Background and design

As part of the UK Government's Intercity Express Programme (IEP), the Class 800 units were build as partial replacements for the ageing InterCity 125 trains which at the time operated services on the Great Western Main Line and the East Coast Main Line and also the InterCity 225 trains which currently operate services on 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.[13]

The Class 800s are capable of Driver-only operation when necessary, however nearly all services have a guard on-board, with this exception being on Oxford and Bedwyn services operated by GWR, where drivers use the in-cab monitors to close the doors without a guard.[14] With a guard on-board, door releases are still controlled by the driver, 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 monitors.[15]

Fleet details

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 Intercity Express Train[16][17] Great Western Railway 36 2014–2018 5 800 001036
Class 800/1 Azuma[16][17] London North Eastern Railway 13 9 800 101113
Class 800/2 Azuma[16][17] 10 5 800 201210
Class 800/3 Intercity Express Train[18] Great Western Railway 21 9 800 301321

In March 2016, Virgin Trains East Coast announced that its trains would carry the brand name Azuma, the Japanese word for "East".[19] In June 2016, GWR announced that its trains would be known as Intercity Express Trains.[20] 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. Even so, the Azuma brand has been retained by LNER.[21]

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.[18] 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 (800 004) ran from Reading to London Paddington carrying invited dignitaries.[22]

GWR unit 800 003 was named Queen Elizabeth II by the monarch herself, in a ceremony at Paddington station on 14 June 2017.[23] 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.[23] 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[24]

On 10 January 2018, unit 800 010 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.[25]

Introduction into service

The Class 800 trains came into service on the Great Western Main Line on 16 October 2017, under the brand name 'Intercity Express Train' (abbreviated to IET).[26] Teething problems surfaced on the inaugural service, with the train running late and an air conditioning unit discharging water into a carriage.[27] Following further problems, the units were withdrawn from service for one day on 19 October, then re-entered service the next day.[28]

The units were due to enter service on the East Coast Main Line from December 2018[29][30][31] with London North Eastern Railway after Virgin Trains returned the East Coast franchise to the government, but the introduction has been delayed until 2019 owing to the units creating electro-magnetic emissions, in turn causing problems with signals and lineside equipment.[32]

The first Class 800 came into service on the East Coast Main Line on 15 May 2019, under the brand name 'Azuma'.[33] They initially began working Leeds, Hull and Newark services. The first one from Edinburgh to Kings Cross ran on 1 August 2019, on the 'Flying Scotsman' service.[34]


Despite being underfloor, the generator units (GU) have diesel engines of V12 formation. The Class 801 has one GU for a five- to nine-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 three GU per five-car set and five GU per nine-car set. A five-car set has a GU situated under vehicles 2/3/4 respectively and a nine-car set has a GU situated under vehicles 2/3/5/7/8 respectively.[1]

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".[35]

Named trains

Great Western Railway's Intercity Express Trains are being named after "inspirational people" who have influenced the regions that the company serves.[36]

Great Western Railway's named / liveried Intercity Express Trains
Unit number Date Name
800 003 13 June 2017 Queen Elizabeth II / Queen Victoria[23] (since de-named)
800 004 30 June 2016 Isambard Kingdom Brunel / Sir Daniel Gooch[37] (since de-named)
800 008 7 June 2018 #trainbow[38]
800 009 7 March 2018 Sir Gareth Edwards / John Charles[39]
800 010 10 January 2018 Michael Bond / Paddington Bear[25]
800 014 8 March 2019 Megan Lloyd George / Edith New[40]
800 019 22 June 2018 Johnny Johnson / Joy Lofthouse[41]
800 020 18 April 2018 Bob Woodward / Elizabeth Ralph[42]
800 023 18 April 2019 Kathryn Osmond / Firefighter Fleur Lombard[43]
800 026 6 August 2018 Don Cameron[44]
800 306 9 November 2018 Harold Day DSC / Allan Leonard Lewis VC (Armistice Centenary Commemoration train)[45]
London North Eastern Railway's named / liveried Azuma trains
Unit number Date Name
800 104 1 August 2019 Celebrating Scotland (Our Official LNER Tartan train)[46]



The new interiors have received praise for the increased leg-room and greater number of tables in Standard Class, compared to the Intercity 125 trains which they 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.[47] Compared to the GWR sets, the LNER sets do have a small 'micro' buffet on-board however.


On the evening of 13 November 2019 an LNER Class 800 "Azuma" (800 109) was involved in a collision with a HST (43300) at Neville Hill Depot, Leeds when the class 800 ran into the rear of the HST. The trains were travelling at 14 miles per hour (23 km/h) and 5 miles per hour (8 km/h) respectively. Three carriages of the Class 800 were derailed. The leading vehicle of the Class 800 and trailing locomotive of the HST were severely damaged. The Rail Accident Investigation Branch opened an investigation in the accident on 22 November.[48][49]

See also


  1. Rogers, Andrew; Robinson, Chris; Agatsuma, Koji; Iwasaki, Mitsuo; Inarida, Satoru; Yamamoto, Takahisa; Konishi, Kenta; Mochida, Toshihiko (2014). "Development of Class 800/801 High-speed Rolling Stock for UK Intercity Express Programme" (PDF). Hitachi Review. 63 (10): 646.
  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). "Electrics reach Didcot". Modern Railways. Vol. 75 no. 833. Key Publishing. pp. 8–9. ISSN 0026-8356. and services on the Cotswold line
  4. "AT300 for the West of England". Retrieved 11 October 2017.
  5. "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 October 2018. Retrieved 4 October 2018.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  6. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 8 November 2016. Retrieved 7 November 2016.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. 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 19 February 2013.
  10. "AT300 - Intercity High Speed | Hitachi Rail EU". Retrieved 31 March 2019.
  11. "All aboard the new Intercity Express trains that will transform journeys across Britain". 16 October 2018. Retrieved 19 August 2018.
  12. "LNER gears up for Azuma launch". Business Traveller. Retrieved 1 December 2019.
  13. "Great Western Railway gives update on when we will get new express trains". devonlive. Retrieved 28 September 2018.
  14. "IEP Trains technical specfication" (PDF).
  15. "RMT ACCEPTS GWR’S IEP OPERATION PLANS" Modern Railways July 2017 Volume 74 Number 826 page 10
  16. "EMU Formations". AbRail. AbRail. Archived from the original on 15 August 2017. Retrieved 18 November 2015.
  17. "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.
  18. "Great Western bi-mode '801s' to be reclassified as Class '800/3s'". Rail. Peterborough: Bauer Media. 20 July 2016. p. 33.
  19. "Edinburgh to London train journey time to be cut to four hours". BBC News. 18 March 2016. Retrieved 18 March 2016.
  20. "Great Western Railway unveils first of fleet of new trains". Retrieved 4 July 2016.
  21. "New Hitachi Azuma parked by Stephenson's Rocket in rare sneak peek". Rail Technology Magazine. 22 June 2018. Retrieved 22 June 2018.
  22. "IEP train keeps royal appointment for anniversary special". Retrieved 11 October 2017.
  23. "HM The Queen names new Intercity Express Train Queen Elizabeth II". Retrieved 9 October 2017.
  24. Paddington Station 24/7. Series 1. Episode 6. 9 October 2017. Channel 5.
  25. "New Intercity Express Train to be named after Paddington Bear author Michael Bond". Retrieved 13 February 2018.
  26. Europe, Hitachi Rail (16 October 2017). "Our British-built intercity trains carried @GWRHelp passengers for the first time". @HitachiRailEU. Retrieved 16 October 2017.
  27. "Fault delays new high-speed train's first journey from Bristol to London". BBC News Online. Retrieved 17 October 2017.
  28. "New 'leaking' London to Cardiff trains taken out of service". BBC News Online. 19 October 2017. Retrieved 20 October 2017.
  29. "Speculation grows about Network Rail funding". Railnews. 11 October 2017. Retrieved 2 August 2019.
  30. "Great Western Railway: Your questions on Hitachi 800 high-speed trains".
  31. "VTEC confirms December 2018 start date for Azumas". Retrieved 11 October 2017.
  32. "LNER cancels December Intercity Express launch". Railnews. 26 October 2018. Retrieved 26 October 2018.
  33. "Hitachi Azuma Enters Service for LNER". Railway-News. 16 May 2019. Retrieved 19 November 2019.
  34. "LNER launches its first Azuma train from Edinburgh to London". HeraldScotland. Retrieved 19 November 2019.
  35. "Too Darned Hot". Modern Railways. Vol. 75 no. 839. August 2018. p. 37.
  36. "Our named Intercity Express Trains | Great Western Railway". Retrieved 23 April 2018.
  37. "Travel has the power to bring us together and expand horizons". The Independent. 1 July 2016. Retrieved 23 April 2018.
  38. "Full steam ahead: rainbow themed train unveiled to celebrate Pride 2018". PinkNews. Retrieved 28 June 2018.
  39. "Train named after Welsh sporting legends". BBC News. 7 March 2018. Retrieved 23 April 2018.
  40. International Women's Day. 8 March 2019. Retrieved 12 March 2019.
  41. "GWR Class 800 naming honours wartime heroes". Retrieved 28 June 2018.
  42. "Great Western Railway name train after Bristol heroes". RailAdvent. 19 April 2018. Retrieved 23 April 2018.
  43. Baker, Hannah (13 May 2019). "Firefighter who died after Bristol arson attack to be honoured". bristolpost. Retrieved 26 May 2019.
  44. "Train named after Balloon Fiesta founder". Bristol 24/7. 7 August 2018. Retrieved 7 August 2018.
  45. "GWR mark 100 years since the Great War". London Live. 9 November 2018. Retrieved 12 November 2018.
  46. "Azuma launches on Flying Scotsman". Retrieved 1 August 2019.
  47. Clinnick, Richard (25 January 2018). "Does Great Western Railway's Class 800 IET pass the test?". Rail Magazine. Retrieved 2 August 2019.
  48. "LNER delays after trains crash at Leeds depot". BBC News Online. 14 November 2019. Retrieved 15 November 2019.
  49. "Train collision at Neville Hill". Rail Accident Investigation Branch. Retrieved 22 November 2019.
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