New Hitachi Class 803 trains have begun testing on the East Coast Main Line, after being towed to Darlington by a Class 66 locomotive.
GBRf Class 66 No. 66751 ‘Inspiration Delivered – Hitachi Rail Europe’ hauled 803 001 into Darlington overnight on the 26th May 2021, running as 5Q69 2202 Merchant Park Sidings to Darlington, after being constructed at Hitachi’s Newton Aycliffe manufacturing plant.
Whilst these may look similar to Hull Trains’ ‘Paragon’ fleet, or LNER’s ‘Azuma’ fleet, these are classified as Class 803s (803001 – 803005) in the UK as they are electric only, rather than having diesel modes like other models currently in operation in the UK.
East Coast Trains is a new Open Access Operator by parent company, First Group. Launching in 2021, East Coast Trains will operate five trains a day calling at London Kings Cross, Stevenage, Newcastle, Morpeth and Edinburgh Waverley.
Up to 1.5m extra seats will be made available every year by the new operator which says that average fares will be less than £25.
803001 completed 3 round trips between Darlington and York overnight on the 26th/27th May 2021, running as:
- 5Q70 2258 Darlington to York
- 5Q71 0028 York to Darlington
- 5Q72 0128 Darlington to York
- 5Q73 0234 York to Darlington
- 5Q74 0335 Darlington to York
- 5Q75 0428 York to Darlington
A spokesperson for East Coast Trains told RailAdvent: “We are continuing to plan for our new sustainable, 100% electric London-Edinburgh open access service which is on track to launch later this year – we are recruiting a team and our new trains are currently being assembled in Newton Aycliffe. Our plans are for the services to start in the autumn.”
A big thank you to Charlie Walker for allowing us to use his images and video in this article. Check out his Instagram for more superb railway photos!
The latest railway news
Signup to our daily and weekly newsletters
Railway Prints, DVD’s / Blu-Ray’s, books and more
Come and share your railway pictures
UK STEAM INFO
Upcoming mainline steam tours/loco movements