The world’s first public railway began operation between the mining towns of Stockton and Darlington, in northeast England, nearly two centuries ago. On March 12, the Port of Southampton was witness to the next step in the country’s long history of public transport.

 As part of the GBP 5.7 billion Intercity Express Programme (IEP) to improve infrastructure, rolling stock and franchise changes needed to support growth and improvements on Britain's busiest intercity rail routes , Hitachi successfully delivered the first of 110 high-speed railcar units.

A crowd of more than 200 dignitaries, guests and reporters gathered in Southampton to watch the first delivery of railcars from Kasado, Japan; the start of a modernisation programme scheduled for completion by 2020.

“It’s hugely exciting to witness the arrival of the first state-of-the-art IEP train on British soil,” said UK Rail Minister Claire Perry. “We are investing record amounts building a world-class railway that provides more seats, more services and better journeys. IEP trains are a crucial part of this and it is fantastic that we are on track for the new fleet to enter service on schedule.”

 The first Hitachi Class 800 train will be part of a new programme of trains on the Great Western and East Coast main lines over the next three years.

“These trains will transform rail travel for passengers travelling between many of the great towns and cities of England, Scotland and Wales; provide a massive jobs boost for Britain and deliver billions of pounds of benefits for our economy,”

 said Perry.

 The remaining 112 trains for the Department for Transport's Intercity Express Programme will be built at a new Hitachi plant in Newton Aycliffe in northeast England.

WWL’s CEO Christopher Conor was present as a proud partner in helping Hitachi Rail and the United Kingdom Department of Transport reach their goal.