BLOG: Next generation

Photo: A completed GWR bi-mode unit undergoes testing on the Great Western Main Line using diesel power.


Its hard to ignore the impending arrival of Hitachi’s new Class 800 Intercity Express Project (IEP) units on the main line railway. Their introduction has had a high profile from start to finish and their actual introduction to service on the Great Western Main Line is coming ever closer.

A Virgin Trains Class 800 ‘Azuma’ stands at Doncaster depot during its testing phase.

The new trains are set to be the new-age HST – a train which has flown the flag for intercity rail travel on the British railway network for more than 40 years. That’s a tough act to follow and I’m a firm believer, having spent many hours riding on the East Coast Main Line fleet, that it really is a tough job to better what BR built in its Mk 3 coaching stock. Their ride, comfort and quality are outstanding for a vehicle which started life in the 1970s.

A mock up of the Class 800 cab interior prior to its final sign off for construction.

The new IEP units, which are being built at Hitachi’s dedicated site in Newton Aycliffe, have been subject to rigorous testing and now units are well into their cycle of main line testing on both the Great Western and East Coast Main Lines. However, it all started at the Old Dalby test track where a specially prepared and painted Class 800 began the process of acceptance for operation on the British railway network. Two versions are coming too: the bi-mode electric and diesel powered Class 800 series and the all electric powered Class 801 units destined for the Great Western and East Coast main lines respectively.

Hitachi’s 800002 stands inside North Pole depot during testing.

Fast forward to November 2016 and Hornby revealed that it would be producing a ready-to-run model of this exciting next generation of express rail travel in its 2017 range and it has been making rapid strides towards its release working closely with Hitachi to ensure the model is highly accurate. Most recently the Hornby Development Team revealed the first full engineering sample of its five-car IEP unit which ultimately will be delivered in GWR green livery.

The model is to feature working interior lights, directional head and tail lights, an 8-pin DCC decoder interface and – according to the videos and Hornby’s commentary on the first sample – a very smooth and quiet running mechanism too.

Power car roof detail on Hornby’s new model.

Its an exciting process watching both the real and model units being developed side by side and, unusually for me as a hardened 1960s era enthusiast, the IEP has caught my attention. Its sleek styling and dramatic appearance will appeal to the next generation of railway modellers. I’ll be watching the development of the IEP model closely and you can be sure that the pages of Hornby Magazine will be bringing you more of the latest news on this exciting project as it develops.

Interior lighting will be installed as standard on the Hornby model.

I hope you enjoy this latest post and if you have anything you would like to comment on, drop us a line to

Hornby Magazine Editor Mike Wild’s next blog will be live on June 16 2017 and you can expect more from Assistant Editor Mark Chivers on June 1 2017.


Posted in Blogs, Mike Wild


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