Hitachi Rail Europe


AV Birch Ltd's access platform played a crucial role in facilitating the completion of Hitachi Rail Europe's high-tech commuter train, inspired by bullet trains, the Class 385.

With an investment exceeding £100 million and the recruitment of over 700 personnel for their new facility in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, Hitachi Rail Europe aims to manufacture replacements for the Intercity 125 and 225.

Integral to the construction process is providing Hitachi technicians secure and controlled access to all areas of the rolling stock, and this is where the expertise of the AV Birch team proved essential. The twin-level steel staging enables technicians to transport interior fittings into the rolling stock and safely access the roof for HVAC installations simultaneously. Equipped with safety systems to prevent falls from heights, the staging minimises risks to staff while remaining user-friendly.

With a load capacity of 500kg/m2, the staging can accommodate approximately 80 tons when fully loaded, doubling the existing steel staging's capacity of 250kg/m2. Stretching 27 meters in length and standing 5 meters tall, the platform allows access to the 24-meter-long car without moving the rolling stock.

Flexibility was a key consideration, as the platform can be used for different rolling stock designs. Notably, it is employed in the construction of the Class 800 Azuma train for the East Coast Main Line and the AT300 bi-mode train destined for the South Coast.

The AV Birch team, known for developing innovative solutions for the rail industry, designed, built, and commissioned the platform.
David Tilsley-Curtis, Director of AV Birch Access Division said, “We are delighted to have delivered a piece of engineering that will provide years of service to one of the leading rail companies. We have built up a good relationship with the team at Hitachi. I put this down to our responsiveness to their requirements and our ability to create innovative solutions both within budget and to meet tight timescales.

In this instance, the staging was installed within the operational factory with no loss of production and no delay to vehicle builds during the install.’

Need an engineering solution

We can help.

Get in touch