Friday 25th Sep, 2020

Hitachi ‘brings rail manufacturing back’ to England’s north east

First pre-series Class 800 Hitachi InterCity Express Programme train undergoes dynamic testing. Photo: Creative Commons / Paul Bigland
Photo: Creative Commons / Paul Bigland

British prime minister David Cameron was on hand last week for the opening of Japanese conglomerate Hitachi’s new £82 million (A$180 million) train manufacturing facility in the north of England.

Hitachi was awarded the £4.5 billion Intercity Express contract from the Department for Transport in 2012, and a £1.2 billion option was added onto that contract in 2014.

A Public Private Partnership, the Intercity Express programme will deliver trains for use on the East Coast network of England and Scotland, and the Great Western network of England and Wales.

The new facility in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham will take pre-produced parts from Hitachi’s Japanese site and manufacture British Rail Class 800 and 801 trains, specially-designed by Hitachi for the Intercity programme.

Hitachi’s first factory in Europe, the Newton Aycliffe site will also produce Scottish commuter trains.

“This massive investment from Hitachi shows confidence in the strength of Britain’s growing economy,” Cameron said on September 3.

“This new train factory will not only provide good jobs for working people but will build the next generation of intercity trains, improving travel for commuters and families, as well as strengthening the infrastructure we need to help the UK grow.”

UK Chancellor of the Exchequer (financial minister) George Osborne said the factory represented a major boost to manufacturing in England’s north east.

“This state of the art facility will grow and secure jobs for decades to come and will help us to build the northern powerhouse while at the same time revitalising some of our oldest industries in the region within which this tradition is synonymous,” Osborne said.

Hitachi chairman and chief executive Hiroaki Nakanishi said the Intercity programme combined “the best of Japanese technology with the best of British manufacturing,” to create the world’s best trains.

“It is our culture as a business to take a long-term view in everything we do,” Nakanishi said. “From our investment here in Newton Aycliffe, to our network of new train maintenance centres across the UK, to our ongoing work in building a strong regional supply chain – Hitachi is here to stay.”

The British Rail Class 800 and 801s will be made up of five or nine 26 metre cars. They will be 2.7 metres wide and will have a maximum speed of 201km/h. The first trains were manufactured wholly in Japan and are being tested in the UK now.

The first of the trains are scheduled to be released for passenger service by December 2017.

UK transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin said the trains were crucial for the future success of several of Britain’s busiest rail routes.

“The state-of-the-art Intercity Express Programme trains that will be manufactured here will transform rail travel for countless passengers in the north east and south west,” he said.

“Not only will these trains allow us to operate more services, with more seats, and faster journeys, the improvements will also bring great opportunities for growth, generating hundreds of jobs in the local area and thousands across the country within the supply chain.”

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