An AV Birch access platform helps leading train builder complete the bullet-train inspired Class 385 high-tech commuter train.

Hitachi Rail Europe have invested over £100m and recruited over 700 people to work in their new factory at Newton Aycliffe, County Durham where the new replacements for the Intercity 125 and 225 will be built.

An integral part of the build process is to allow Hitachi technicians safe and controlled access to all parts of the rolling stock and this is where the skills of the AV Birch team came into play.

The twin level, steel staging will allow Hitachi technicians to take interior fittings into the rolling stock as well as being able to access the roof safely to fit HVAC parts at the same time. The staging is also fitted with safety systems which help to prevent falls from height, and reduces risks to staff while still being easy to operate.

Rated at 500kg/m2, fully loaded the staging can now take in the region of 80t in its entirety, doubling the 250kg/m2 capacity of the existing steel staging. The new platform stretches a full 27m long and 5m tall, enabling access to the 24m long car, without moving the rolling stock.

AV Birch access platform

AV Birch access platform

Flexibility was a key requirement. The platform can also be used for different designs of rolling stock. The Class 800 Azuma train for the East Coast Main Line and the AT300 bi-mode train destined for the South Coast is also being built using the new platform.

The platform was designed, built and commissioned by the AV Birch team, who have a track record in developing innovative and effective solutions for manufacturers in the rail industry and overcoming the unique challenges of large scale manufacturing and assembly.

David Tilsley-Curtis, Director of AV Birch Access Division ‘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 ’