On 9th December, the HS2 Ltd. approved that a Hitachi-Alstom joint venture has been awarded the contracts to construct Britain’s next generation of high-speed trains at their factories in Derby and County Durham in an essential deal set to support 2,500 jobs over the UK.
The landmark contracts which is worth about £2bn – will see the joint venture design, build and maintain a fleet of 54 state-of-the-art high-speed trains that are going to work on HS2 – the new high-speed railway being constructed between London, the West Midlands and Crewe.
The fully electric trains that are capable of speeds of up to 225mph (360km/h), will also run on the current network to places such as Glasgow, Liverpool, Manchester, and the North West. These trains which will be constructed on the latest technology from the Japanese Shinkansen ‘bullet train’ and European high-speed network, will be some of the quietest, fastest, and most energy-efficient high-speed trains operating anywhere in the world.
Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps stated:
“Today’s announcement places Britain firmly at the forefront of the high-speed rail revolution with these state-of-the-art trains serving communities right across the country from London to Glasgow.”
“This is another landmark step in the delivery of HS2 which will open up new employment and leisure opportunities for millions of people, leveling up the opportunity for generations to come.”
The design, manufacture, assembly, and testing of the new trains will be shared between Alstom and Hitachi Rail.
- The first stages comprising vehicle body assembly and initial fit-out will be done at Hitachi Rail’s facility at Newton Aycliffe, County Durham; and
- The second stage of fit-out and testing will be done at Alstom’s Litchurch Lane factory in Derby.
In another key improvement for train-building in the UK, all the bogies (which house the wheelsets) will both be assembled and maintained at Alstom’s Crewe facility – the first time since 2004 that both jobs have been done in the UK.
The first train is anticipated to be rolled off the production line about 2027. Following a rigorous process of testing and commissioning, the first passengers are anticipated to be done between 2029 and 2033.
HS2 Ltd.’s Chief Executive, Mark Thurston, Welcomed the news and mentioned:
“Today is a massive day for HS2. The trains that will be built in Derby, Newton Aycliffe, and Crewe will transform rail travel – offering passengers unparalleled levels of reliability, speed, and comfort and help in the fight to remove carbon from our transport system. I’d like to congratulate Alstom and Hitachi and we look forward to working with them to bring these exciting new trains to passengers across the UK.”
Andrew Barr, Group CEO, Hitachi Rail asserted:
“We are excited to be pioneering the next generation of high-speed rail in the UK as part of our joint venture with Alstom. This British-built bullet train will be the fastest in Europe, and I am proud of the role that Hitachi will play in helping to improve mobility in the UK through this project.”
Nick Crossfield, Alstom’s Managing Director, UK & Ireland, declared:
“HS2 is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform Britain by building a sustainable transport system fit for the 21st Century. I am delighted that Alstom’s joint venture with Hitachi Rail has been selected to develop, build and maintain in Britain the next generation of high-speed trains.”
A recent study commissioned by Hitachi/Alstom JV estimates that the award could generate benefits of £157m per year across the UK and support 2,500 jobs containing opportunities for apprenticeships and graduates.
The interior layout which is designed to be fully accessible, will be decided following a two-and-a-half-year collaborative design process involving HS2 Ltd, the Department for Transport, and the West Coast Partnership, the operator of the trains when they first come into service.
Serving destinations such as Liverpool, Glasgow, Birmingham, and London, HS2 trains will work seamlessly between HS2 and the current rail network decreasing many journey times over the UK. Each train will be about 200m long, with the option to couple two units together to make a 400m long train with up to 1,100 seats.
In addition, the train will benefit from Hitachi Rail’s pioneering low noise pantograph – the arm which collects power from the overhead wires. This technology will make it quieter than a comparable high-speed train and use regenerative braking to improve energy efficiency.
Alongside, design, manufacturing, and testing, the contracts also contain 12 years of maintenance which could be extended in the future to cover the estimated 35-year life of the rolling stock. The fleet will be maintained at a new maintenance depot being constructed by HS2 Ltd at Washwood Heath on the outskirts of Birmingham, generating jobs and extra apprenticeship opportunities.
The Hitachi / Alstom JV will work with HS2 Ltd and Birmingham City Council to support the development of opportunities for employment arising from the construction of the new maintenance depot at Washwood Heath, Birmingham, and to provide opportunities for local people to engage in training and development opportunities.