Hitachi has won a £400m contract to build a new fleet of intercity trains at its Newton Aycliffe plant in Durham.
The contract has been awarded by Abellio UK, and will see Hitachi build 165 intercity carriages as part of a complete fleet replacement on the East Midlands Railway (EMR).
The new trains will start operating in 2022 and will serve the main cities and towns on the Midland Main Line including Sheffield, Chesterfield, Nottingham, Derby, Leicester and Lincoln as well as Kettering and London St Pancras.
Abellio has ordered 33 five-carriage trains, which will regularly be operated in 10-carriage formations. The new trains claim to be quieter and greener, meaning lower carbon emissions and a better environment for passengers, stations and communities along the route.
They also have the ability to run using electric overhead lines wherever possible, taking advantage of the £1.5bn Midland Main Line upgrade and, when running in diesel mode, it is claimed they will cut harmful emissions by up to 90% compared to the legacy High Speed Trains.
The new contract is set to benefit suppliers across the country and, in particular, the East Midlands. Hitachi’s UK train factory at Newton Aycliffe has worked with 65 different suppliers from the East Midlands, awarding various multi-million-pound contracts to support skills and high-quality jobs in the region.
Since opening in 2015, Hitachi’s Durham site has already delivered over 450 intercity train carriages into passenger service in the UK. Based on Japanese bullet train technology, the new fleet for EMR is the sixth intercity fleet that Hitachi will deliver to UK train operators, and Hitachi’s train maintenance team will maintain and service the new fleet at EMR’s Etches Park depot in Derby.
The funding package for the new Hitachi trains is 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. As with Rock Rail’s previous new rolling stock deals, debt will be provided by institutional investor organisations (pension funds and insurance companies).
Dominic Booth, Abellio UK managing director 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 £600m 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% more seats into London in the morning peak.”
Karen Boswell, managing director for Hitachi Rail UK, welcomed the positive news for British railway workers: “Today’s announcement will be welcomed in workshops and engineering centres across the country, thanks to our large network of UK suppliers,” she said. “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.”
Mark Swindell, chief executive officer, Rock Rail, said: “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 £2.5bn in the UK railway. This long term, highly competitive funding enables significantly enhanced value for money to rail passengers and tax payers over the life of the trains, along with significant improvements in passenger, environmental and operational features.”