(Written by Matthew Diggle  )

During her time in the UK, Natsumi Okahara has occasionally mentioned to me that she would like to go sailing and as she will shortly be returning to Japan I arranged a weekend afloat for her. Miki Nagai provided much-needed moral support and a couple of former TMS team members came along too, so we had a bit of a reunion,.

I think that Natsumi was expecting the whole super-yacht experience, so we started off with a glass of Champagne (it was Prosecco actually, but don’t tell her). I think this might well have been her favourite part of the weekend!

I’m not aware of any specific alcohol limits for sailing, but I’m sure Sharon will be pleased to know that we didn’t set off until the following morning. Once we were underway with sails hoisted, the wind blowing, and the sun shining, Natsumi took a turn on the helm successfully avoiding other traffic in the Solent.


We anchored for lunch off the Isle of Wight where we saw a more welcome visiting vessel, a Mr Whippy ice-cream boat complete with tinny jingle.

We sailed on in the afternoon through some more significant waves and spray before finding a place to tie-up and spend the night.

The next day we sailed back with the sun on our backs, the wind in our hair (well not my hair, obviously), and Miki on the helm

All was well until it was time to drive the last little bit into the marina and the engine just wouldn’t start. In the end we had to call the marine equivalent of the AA to tow us back in to our berth, but no one died and the boat didn’t sink so by my reckoning it was a successful trip!





Richard Belli has recently been appointed as Chairman of IRSE (Plymouth Section). This continues a HICSE monopoly which has seen both Richard and Dave Biss hold the role between them for the majority of the last half a dozen years. The Plymouth Section was founded in 1970 and draws members from the strong railway engineering base in the city which includes companies such as Bombardier, Atkins and MGB. Regular technical meetings and visits are held, which this year includes a prestigious paper to be held on Crossrail, likely to be hosted at the University of Plymouth in October. A technical visit to Dartmouth Steam Railway is planned early next year.

“It’s an honour to be Chairman once again of this long-standing section of the IRSE. It’s a good chance to meet with colleagues from other companies and learn from the variety of projects that we are all working on. The Crossrail paper should be of particular interest as a number of local companies have been involved in some shape or form, not least ourselves with the recent testing of Paddington Crossrail interlocking data using TREsure.”

HICSE has presented a number of technical presentations to the local section in recent years and Richard would be very interested if any colleagues within HICSE would be prepared to present on a railway topic in future years.





On 13 June 1842, Queen Victoria made the journey from Slough to Paddington and became the first British monarch to travel by train. The train that day was driven by Daniel Gooch and assisted by Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

To mark this unique occasion GWR recreated the journey between the two stations using its new Hitachi-built Intercity Express Train, in the presence of HM The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh. The Royal party were joined on the train by Isambard Thomas and Gillian White, the direct descendants of Isambard Kingdom Brunel and Sir Daniel Gooch.

Following the naming ceremony, The Queen was presented with a pair of specially designed coins Tim O’Toole, Chief Executive of GWR’s owner’s FirstGroup presented The Queen with a pair of specially designed coins which will become a feature of GWR’s new trains.

Great Western Railway’s Intercity Express Train marks the start of the biggest fleet upgrade in a generation on GWR’s network and is the first major intercity fleet to be introduced on the UK rail network from some 20 years. It is due to enter passenger service first on the Great Western Railway in the autumn this year, and will enable longer trains with more seats, faster and more frequent train services.

The trains are being built by the 900-strong workforce at Hitachi its North East factory in Newton Aycliffe, as part of the Government’s £5.7bn Intercity Express Programme.

Her Majesty was greeted at Slough Station by school children from four local schools who had produced their own drawings to mark the occasion. There were more than 100 children, aged between five and 11, from Slough’s St Mary’s Primary. IRQA Slough Islamic School, James Elliman Academy, Marish Primary School.

Karen Boswell OBE, Managing Director of Hitachi Rail Europe, said: “We trust that Her Majesty enjoys the space, comfort and smooth ride on our new Intercity train. From the autumn, passengers will begin to feel the benefits of this new British-built fleet as they travel around the Great Western route.”

Mark Hopwood, Managing Director of Great Western Railway said: “We are delighted that The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh were able to join us to mark this historic anniversary. We at GWR are extremely proud of our heritage and this occasion marks a very special moment in the history of the Great Western Railway.”

Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling said: “This is a truly inspirational event and a fitting tribute to the proud heritage of Brunel’s railway. This route remains one of the foundations of our rail network and as a nation we should be proud of our railways, which continue to be the bedrock of our public transport system.”

Mark Langman, Managing Director of Network Rail, Western Route said: “It is an honour to have welcomed The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh to Paddington station 175 years after the first royal arrival into the iconic London station by train.

“Today marked the culmination of years of hard work by Network Rail teams and our colleagues at GWR. It demonstrates the closer working between the rail industry partners to deliver a better railway for passengers - continuing the proud story and tradition of the Great Western Railway.”

About Hitachi Rail Europe Ltd.

Hitachi Rail Europe Ltd., is a wholly owned subsidiary of Hitachi Europe, Ltd. and is headquartered in London, UK.

Hitachi Rail Europe is a total railway system supplier offering rolling stock, traction equipment, signalling, traffic management systems, and maintenance depots.

Hitachi draws on many years of experience as a leading supplier of high-speed trains such as the Shinkansen (bullet train) for the Japanese and international markets. In Europe, Hitachi Rail Europe’s first rolling stock contract was to deliver a fleet of 29 Class 395 trains, the first domestic high-speed train in the UK, which are maintained at Hitachi’s state of the art depot in Ashford, Kent. As part of the British Department for Transport’s Intercity Express Programme, Hitachi Rail Europe will replace the UK’s ageing fleet of Intercity trains, and will establish a new rolling stock manufacturing facility in the UK for this purpose. The trains will be maintained and services in a number of new maintenance
depots along the Great Western Main Line and the East Coast Main Line.

For more information about the company, please visit: www.Hitachirail-eu.com





On the 22nd and 23rd May, Tom Ross attended the Scandinavian Rail Development conference in Stockholm.  Presentations came from the rail companies of Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and the Baltics.  Also present were most of the large rail companies as well as lots of smaller organisations with specific products. The conference was also supported by representatives of the Dept of International Trade both in the region and from the UK.  Tom attended this conference as part of the sales team strategy to diversify our customer base.

The presentations detailed the massive investment into rail across the region and the need for foreign companies to provide their skills and expertise to support the many incredible projects (a station built inside a mountain is a particular favourite).  There was also high levels of discussion around data in rail companies – how to gain value from the vast amounts of data railways generate.  Data is becoming the hottest topic in rail and Hitachi is going to be an important player in helping customers realise the value.