THE first new Intercity Express train built by Hitachi in Japan has been unloaded in Britain.
The train was unloaded from a transporter ship at Southampton today in front of a welcoming committee led by rail minister Claire Perry.
She said: "It is hugely exciting to witness the arrival of the first state-of-the-art IEP train on British soil. 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.
"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 IEP is also helping to secure long-term economic growth by creating hundreds of jobs and apprenticeships at Hitachi's new factory in County Durham, as well as thousands more jobs across the UK supply chain. I cannot wait to see the trains being manufactured in Britain and passengers using them."
Although the first Class 800 unit was completed at Hitachi's Kasado works in Japan, most of the two fleets, which are intended for the Great Western and East Coast Main Lines, will be assembled at a new £82 million plant in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham. New maintenance depots are also being built in several locations, which include north Bristol and Doncaster.
The orders from the Hitachi-led consortium Agility Trains for a total of 122 trains, worth a total of £5.7 billion when maintenance is taken into account, had been followed by criticism that the trains would not be wholly built in Britain. However, the DfT emphasised that they contain components from almost 30 suppliers based in the UK, and that the assembly plant in County Durham will create 730 jobs. A contract has also just been signed for new electric trains for the Scottish central belt, which will be produced at Newton Aycliffe.
The first train will now undergo testing to get the fleet ready for service on Great Western from 2017 and East Coast from 2018. All the trains will be in service by 2020.