THE first images showing the interior of Hitachi's North-East built express trains have been released, giving passengers a glimpse of the rolling stock that will run on the East Coast Main Line later this decade. 

Hitachi Rail Europe chose British firm DCA Design International to design the interiors of its new Super Express Trains as part of the Government's Inter City Express Programme(IEP) to revamp the UK's 40-year old high speed trains. 

Earlier this month, ministers handed Hitachi a £1.2bn extension to its initial IEP contract, which is expected to safeguard 730 jobs at the firm's Newton Aycliffe factory until 2020.   

As part of the project, DCA, which last year was awarded the Queen’s Award for Enterprise for its achievements in international trade, will construct a full size mock-up of all the passenger interiors as well as an interior and exterior mock up of the driver’s cab at its workshops in Warwick.

Hitachi’s new 125mph trains will have between five and nine carriages and operate in electric or bi-mode, enabling passengers to travel on electrified or non-electrified routes.

The carriage interiors feature extensive use of wood veneers on the end walls of the carriage and across tables. First class will be distinguishable from standard class through its darker materials.

In 2016, the Aycliffe plant will start building the trains which will enter service on the Great Western Main Line, which runs via Bristol to south Wales, in 2017 and the East Coast Main Line, which connects the North-East to Scotland and London, the following year. They are expected to be up to five times as reliable as operator East Coast's electric trains.

DCA director Rob Bassil (CORR) said: “These new trains will offer passengers a step change in reliability, capacity and comfort, and Hitachi has challenged us to deliver an iconic interior design to underline these benefits. 

"We are very excited by the prospect and have put the right staff, resources and processes in place to support Hitachi in doing exactly that.

"Our experience and expertise in transport design over the last 50 years is unparalleled. Every day more than three million people around the world complete journeys using our designs on the road, in the air and by train,” he added.

Keith Jordan, the managing director for Hitachi Rail Europe confirmed that DCA had won the contract against stiff international competition, and said:

“When it came to the design of the interior of the Super Express Train, Hitachi was particularly keen to create an environment that would be a pleasure for passengers to travel in.

"We picked DCA because they bring extensive experience with design projects, not only in the rail industry but also in other industry sectors. The team at DCA brings a modern, creative approach to the rail vehicles that will add to the great journey experience the Super Express Trains will offer to customers.”

Since its design of the groundbreaking London Underground Central Line trains, DCA has been involved in rail design projects ranging from the interior and exterior design of Le Shuttle, which carries vehicles through the tunnel between England and France, to the latest interior re-design, cab exterior restyling and exterior livery for the Northern Ireland Railways C4K series EMUs, and the interior of the Virgin Cross Country trains.

In the meantime, Hitachi Europe, the parent company of Hitachi Rail Europe has announced that Sir Stephen Gomersall is stepping down as chief executive and Klaus Dieter Rennert is taking over from September 1. 

Sir Stephen has been a very strong supporter of Hitachi Rail Europe and the train builder anticipates that Mr Rennert will offer similar backing.