July 30, 2019 @ 13:29 by Steven Hugill
A North East trainbuilder has secured a £400 million contract to deliver next generation rolling stock for British lines.
Hitachi Rail will supply 33 five-carriage trains to operator Abellio UK.
The intercity fleet, which will be made at Hitachi’s factory in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, will run on the East Midlands Railway franchise, which serves cities including London, Sheffield, Nottingham, Derby and Leicester.
Bosses say the rolling stock, which will secure and support hundreds of jobs at Hitachi’s North East base, will start operating in 2022.
They added the trains will be able to run using electric and diesel power.
Karen Boswell, managing director of Hitachi Rail UK, said the contract was fantastic news for the business and for rail passengers.
“This announcement will be welcomed in workshops and engineering centres across the country, thanks to our large network of UK suppliers.
“Our train factory in County Durham sources train parts from across the country, including a significant amount from the region where the new trains will run.
“Hitachi is delighted that East Midlands Railway passengers will soon be receiving the very latest model of our new intercity trains, which are already proving popular and increasing satisfaction among passengers in other parts of the country.”
The contract will add to an order book at Hitachi that already includes production of rolling stock for the East Coast and Great Western routes under the Government’s InterCity Express Programme.
The business has also been responsible for making Scottish rolling stock, known as Class 385s, for lines between Edinburgh and Glasgow, and Dominic Booth, Abellio UK’s managing director, said Hitachi’s experience will help the business fulfil its franchise ambitions.
He said: “These new trains form the centrepiece of our ambitious plans for a complete replacement of all the trains on the East Midlands Railway and are a more than £600 million investment to really improve the region’s railway.
“They will respond to what our passengers have told us they want with more frequent services, faster journeys between the East Midlands and London, and provide more capacity with 80 per cent more seats into London in the morning peak.”
A funding package for the new trains has been led by Rock Rail and the fleet will be financed through Rock Rail East Midlands plc and leased to Abellio for the life of the franchise.
Mark Swindell, Rock Rail chief executive, added: “This new state-of-the-art Hitachi fleet represents Rock Rail’s fourth new rolling stock deal in the UK, and across all deals combined sees investment by the institutional investor sector of around £2.5 billion in the UK railway.
“This long-term, highly-competitive funding enables significantly enhanced value for money to rail passengers and taxpayers over the life of the trains, along with significant improvements in passenger, environmental and operational features.”