Crewe shares in £2bn contract to build HS2 high-speed trains

HS2 train design
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HS2 today (December 9) confirmed that an Hitachi/Alstom joint venture has been awarded the contracts to build Britain’s next generation of high-speed trains at their factories in Crewe, Derby and County Durham in a major deal set to support 2,500 jobs across the UK.

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 high-speed railway being built between London, the West Midlands and Crewe.

Capable of speeds of up to 225mph, 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.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “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, levelling up opportunity for generations to come.”

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, 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 an £8.5m investment in new welding and painting facilities at Newton Aycliffe where the 432 HS2 bodyshells will be manufactured.

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.

Welcoming the news, HS2 chief executive, Mark Thurston, said: “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 against climate change.

“I’d like to congratulate Alstom and Hitachi and I look forward to working with them as together we bring these exciting new trains to passengers across the UK.”

Andrew Barr, group CEO, Hitachi Rail, said: “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.”

Alstom’s managing director, UK & Ireland, Nick Crossfield, said: “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 the 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 Partner, 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 than comparable high speed trains 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 a 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.

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