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Hitachi - Newton Aycliffe

Wednesday 6th December 2017

©  Malcolm Pym

On Wednesday 6th December 13 members met at Darlington Station for a visit to the new Hitachi factory which is building the new IEP and Scotrail class 385 units.

After a ride by local taxi’s were arrived at the new factory . It looks like a big warehouse . We were met by Jordan Hazell who is the PR representative for the company.

After donning HV gear we were taken to a meeting room for a briefing on safety and aspects of the company. Their aspirations are to build new style units for the British market including sub-surface trains. It was explained that the vehicles for the IEP trains come from Japan the body partly assembled . The normally arrive a Tees Dock and are transported without bogies by road to the factory. The ScotRail vehicles arrive from Italy as a shell, without windows They are fitted out at the factory.

Jordan then took us down to the factory floor. As it is purpose built it seems so spacious with at least 12 tracks inside where vehicles were in various stages of assembly. The vehicle bodies are already painted when they arrive. They are placed on movable jacks where the underframe work is completed.

In the middle of the factory is a traverser which is used to move the bodies to other parts of the factory by a small remote control locomotive. We were show into a bare bodyshell of a ScotRail unit. A walk to other parts of the factory we came to the other end of the building where another traverse was located . The group observed a vehicle being shunted onto and off the tranverser to be joined with the rest of the set, Opposite is another finishing building which is in the process of construction. Several sets of both models we observed on test under the OHL. Unfortunately the rules did not allow us to venture to see them. Once back in the factory we were shown a finished vehicle from one of the GWR IEP sets. The layout is rows of seats with some having tables. A very different layout to the HST.

All too soon we were at the end of our visit and a taxi ride back to Darlington or some chose to walk to Heighington station to catch a train back. Unfortunately on the way back some were delayed due to a fatality at Potters bar . My train was stopped at Welwyn Garden City and sent back to Stevenage to travel via the Hertford loop,arriving 90 mins late.