HITACHI Rail Europe's long-term ambition to become a major rolling stock and technology supplier in Europe took another step forward on July 21 when it unveiled in London mock-ups of two new electric trains: the AT100 for inner-suburban stopping services and metros, and the AT200 for longer-distance regional services. Both mock-ups will be on show at InnoTrans.
Up to now, Hitachi has concentrated on the British market where it has already achieved considerable success. Hitachi's class 395 Javelin high-speed EMUs have been in service with Southeastern since June 2009 operating domestic services on HS1. As part of the Agility consortium, Hitachi is building a fleet of electric and bi-mode Super Express Trains for operation on the Great Western and East Coast main lines under the Department for Transport's Intercity Express Programme (IEP). While the two new designs have been developed with the British market in mind, Hitachi is keen to show them to a wider audience.
"We see an excellent market for EMUs in Britain to meet the need to increase capacity and provide trains for the electrification programme," says Mr Alistair Dormer, who was appointed global CEO of Hitachi's rail systems business in April, as part of the company's strategy to become a globally-competitive enterprise.
Hitachi has invested around £2m in building the mock-ups ahead of winning any orders for the trains as it is eager to demonstrate what it can offer prospective clients. But the investment is not entirely speculative as Hitachi has been shortlisted for the tender to supply 39 four-car emus for London Overground which is taking over the operation of services from London Liverpool Street to northeastern suburbs, and it has offered the AT200 to bidders for the new Scotrail franchise. Hitachi says it will build a prototype AT200 train by May 2017 if it has not secured a contract beforehand.
"The AT100 and AT200 have a modular design to reduce lead time and cost to enable us to make a very competitive offer to customers," Dormer says. The modular concept will enable operators to customise the design to meet their specific needs, and Hitachi says passenger needs played a major role during the design phase.
The AT100, which is aimed at the high-density suburban and metro market, has 20m-long car bodies with wide inter-car gangways to allow passengers to move freely throughout the train. The train will be designed to operate at up to a maximum speed of between 120 and 160km/h.
The AT200 for longer-distance suburban and regional operation will have 23m-long bodyshells and a new type of sliding plug door developed by IFE, Austria, which has 20% fewer parts than previous designs. The AT200 (pictured) will be the first Japanese-style train to adopt European sliding plug doors.
The AT200 features cantilevered seats and tables which will provide more space for luggage, simplify cleaning and maintenance, and allow the interior layout to be modified, while the AT100 will have bench seating. Seats in the AT200 are fitted with USB sockets and power points.
The inter-car gangway on the AT200 designed by Dellner has aluminium slats to eliminate gaps which reduces noise and results in a better finish.
The AT200 has a maximum speed of between 160 and 200km/h, as Hitachi sees great potential for trains in this speed range.
Both types of train are dual voltage with 25kV ac overhead and 750V dc third rail to make them suitable for the British market. While the traction system is still being designed it will be based on Hitachi's IGBT technology. Both trains will be capable of accelerating at 1m/s2.
A mock-up of part of one vehicle for each train design will be on show at InnoTrans. Each coach will have functioning equipment to demonstrate the new technology specifically developed for this new family of electric aluminium-bodied trains.
"We have moved on from the IEP design, although we have used some of the IEP suppliers with next-generation components," says project manager Mr Simon Bolton.
The AT100 has a new concept of lighting which is novel in its execution. It is embedded in a semi-utilitarian strip which is curved and fitted into the ceiling. LPA Exil has supplied the LED lights for the trains.
The passenger information system has been designed by Focon, Denmark. "Our view is that the dot matrix indicator is dead," Bolton says. "So we will have high-resolution full-colour LCD screens." These can be used to show information, while large screens in the AT100 could display rolling advertisements.
"We have tried to look into the future with the new trains to see how we can improve the passenger's journey," Bolton says.
More sophisticated systems will not only give passengers access to more information, they should also help to make rail more attractive, while dynamic advertising could generate additional revenue for metro operators.
Another Danish company - Aporta Digital - has designed an app which will perform several functions, which passengers can access through the on-board Wi-Fi and entertainment system.
The app can be used to guide passengers to their reserved seat as they board the AT200 or find unreserved seats and then allocate a specific seat to them if they desire. Seats in the AT200 are tagged with a QR code which enables passengers to log in using the app. This will inform the train manager when new passengers have boarded the train and where they are sitting. Sensors supplied by Rechner Sensors will determine which seats are occupied by passengers and can distinguish between people and other objects placed on seats such as luggage, brief cases or handbags. Information on which seats are unreserved can then be displayed at each door.
Passengers can also use the app to secure luggage electronically. An RFID sticker is applied to each bag which will alert the passenger via the app if the bag is moved.
Ceiling-mounted passenger-counter cameras will monitor the movement of passengers into and out of each coach to enable the operator to gain accurate information on passenger loading and movement.
The trains will be fully air-conditioned. Underfloor heating panels, rather than traditional bodyside heaters, will supplement the air-conditioning when the temperature falls below 10oC.
A lot of thought has been given to how the trains will be maintained. Hitachi says a high level of onboard diagnostics will continuously monitor train performance and relay information to the maintenance depot.
The car bodies will be made of lightweight aluminium alloy extrusions using friction stir welding, which should make them resistant to corrosion. Hitachi says that the combination of aluminium and the welding technique offers a good combination of high strength and low weight while still producing a highly-crashworthy structure.
Trains with a maximum speed below 160km/h would be fitted with Hitachi's inner-frame bogie, which was on show at InnoTrans in 2012. It weighs 32% less compared with outer-frame bogies as the bearings are outboard. For trains with a higher maximum speed, H-frame bogies will be used.
The trains will be designed to maximise the use of dynamic braking and will be fitted with a driver advisory system, both of which should reduce energy consumption.
Finally, the trains will be available in a wide range of configurations from three-car sets up to 12-car trains. While both driving cars in all versions except a three-car unit will be motored, the modular traction system allows an exchange between trailer and motored cars to produce the desired performance.
(Visit Hitachi Rail Europe in Hall 4.2, stand 304)