Landmark HS2 train contracts awarded to JV to support 2,500 UK jobs

Contracts to build Britain’s next generation of high-speed trains are set to support 2,500 jobs across the UK.

HS2 has confirmed that a Hitachi/Alstom joint venture (JV) will build the trains at their factories in Derby and County Durham in a major deal.

The landmark contracts – worth around £2bn – will see the JV design, build and maintain a fleet of 54 state-of-the-art high-speed trains that will operate on HS2, the new high-speed railway being built between London, the West Midlands and Crewe.

A statement on HS2’s website said: “Capable of speeds of up to 225mph (360km/h), the fully electric trains will also run on the existing network to places such as Glasgow, Liverpool, Manchester and the North-West. Building on the latest technology from the Japanese Shinkansen ‘bullet train’ and European high-speed network, they will be some of the fastest, quietest and most energy efficient high-speed trains operating anywhere in the world.”

The design, manufacture, assembly and testing of the new trains will be shared between Hitachi Rail and Alstom.

The first stages including 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 major boost for train-building in the UK, the statement said, 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.

Hitachi Rail has recently completed a £8.5m investment in new welding and painting facilities at Newton Aycliffe where the 432 HS2 bodyshells will be manufactured, the statement said.

The first train is expected to roll off the production line around 2027. Following a rigorous process of testing and commissioning, the first passengers are expected to be carried between 2029 and 2033.

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 including opportunities for apprenticeships and graduates.

Designed to be fully accessible, the interior layout will be decided following a two-and-a-half year collaborative design process involving HS2, 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 operate seamlessly between HS2 and the existing rail network, halving many journey times across the UK. Each train will be around 200m long, with the option to couple two units together to create a 400m long train with up to 1,100 seats.

The train will also benefit from Hitachi Rail’s pioneering low noise pantograph – the arm which collects power from the overhead wires. Developed in Japan, this technology will make it quieter that comparable high-speed train and use regenerative braking to boost energy efficiency.

It will also be 15% lighter and offer 30% more seats than comparable high-speed trains in Europe – such as the Italian ETR1000 built by JV between Hitachi Rail and Alstom.

Alongside, design, manufacturing and testing, the contracts also included 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 built by HS2 at Washwood Heath on the outskirts of Birmingham, creating jobs and additional apprenticeship opportunities.

The statement went on to say: “The Hitachi/Alstom JV will work with HS2 and Birmingham City Council to support the development of opportunities for employment arising from the construction of the new maintenance depot at Washwood Heath, Bir-mingham and to provide opportunities for local people to engage in training and development opportunities.”

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