British Rail Class 801

The British Rail Class 801 is the electric multiple unit (EMU) variant of the Hitachi Super Express high-speed trains used on a variety of long-distance routes in the United Kingdom. Based on the Hitachi A-train design, and part of the Hitachi AT300 product family, they have been built since 2017 at Hitachi's purpose built facility at Newton Aycliffe, and have been used on services on the East Coast Main Line since 16 September 2019.[2]. They are closely related to the electro-diesel bi-mode units of classes 800 and 802, and all three classes are part of the Intercity Express Programme (IEP)[3]

British Rail Class 801 AT300
801102 - 801109 at Kings Cross, November 2019
In service16 September 2019
Built at
Family nameA-Train
Constructed2017 - present
Number built30 x 9-car sets
12 x 5-car sets
10 x 7-car sets
Capacity5 car set: 254 standard, 48 first class - 9 car set: 510 standard, 101 first class
Operator(s)London North Eastern Railway
Avanti West Coast (Future)
Line(s) servedEast Coast Main Line
Car body constructionAluminium
Car length26 m (85 ft 3 58 in)
Maximum speed
  • 125 mph (200 km/h)
  • (140 mph, 225 km/h Using ETCS in cab signalling )
Weight41 tonnes per coach[1]
Electric system(s)25 kV 50 Hz AC overhead lines
Current collection methodPantograph
Safety system(s)AWS, TPWS, ETCS
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge

London North Eastern Railway are using the brand Azuma to refer to all of their new Hitachi rolling stock, including the Class 801s.[4]

Background and design

As part of the UK Government's Intercity Express Programme, the Class 801 units were intended as replacements for the ageing InterCity 125 and InterCity 225 trains which currently operate services on the Great Western Main Line (GWML) and the East Coast Main Line (ECML).[5] The Class 801 units were designed as electric multiple units, with one diesel engine fitted to each set for emergency use. In the 5-car sets,the single diesel engine is located in car 4. In the 9-car sets, the diesel engine is located in car 8. However, owing to delays in the electrification of the GWML, in June 2016, the Government announced that the 21 nine-car units (Class 801/0) planned for use by Great Western Railway would instead be converted to bi-mode operation,[6] and they were later reclassified as Class 800/3.[7] As a consequence, Class 801 units will be used exclusively on the ECML.

Introduction into service

The first two Class 801s entered service on 16 September 2019 with LNER. LNER announced this as the first 10-car Azuma to come into service. 801109 and 801110 were the units, having started and finished their diagram at Leeds.

As more 5 car 801/1 sets have entered service gradually, the 9 car 801/2 sets have also been able to start being introduced. The first two entered service on 18 November 2019, with 801205 working an Edinburgh service and 801207 working a York service both from Kings Cross.

Fleet details

As well as the 42 being built for London North Eastern Railway, Avanti West Coast has announced that they wish to acquire 10 seven-car units of the same build as the 801's [8]. It is still unknown if these will be classed as 801's.

Class Operator No. Built Year Built Cars per Set Unit nos.
Class 801/1 Azuma[9] London North Eastern Railway 12 2017- 5 801 101112
Class 801/2 Azuma[9] 30 2017- 9 801 201230
TBA Avanti West Coast 10 2019- 7 TBA


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