Rail giants launch HS2 bullet train development centre

Two global rail giants are opening up a High Speed 2 bid centre in Birmingham to develop their plans to build an iconic train for the project.

A team of up to 50 experts from Hitachi Rail and Bombardier Transportation, including engineers, designers and environmental specialists, has been put together to work up the proposals.

Based at Millennium Point in Birmingham, overlooking the site of the planned Curzon Street HS2 station, they are already developing their concepts for what will be the fastest train ever operated in the UK.

Richard Hunter, managing director UK, Bombardier Transportation, said: “HS2 is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform the nation, and in Birmingham that transformation is happening already.

“The city was the obvious choice for our HS2 bid centre, and it is from here that experts from Bombardier and Hitachi are already developing an iconic train fleet capable of winning the bid for this vital project.”

Britain’s bullet train will offer passengers an unrivalled travel experience as it runs at speeds of up to 360 kp/h on the the new link between the West Midlands and London when it opens in 2026.

The trains will also be specially designed to make them “classic compatible”, so that they are able to travel on the current network.

The joint bid team is looking at how best it can support the strategic goals of the Government’s investment in HS2. The development of the major new train fleet can help to boost regional growth, while delivering the skills and training needed to realise the future export potential of the wider high speed rail sector.

Karen Boswell, managing director at Hitachi Rail, said: “Apart from creating much needed additional rail capacity, one of the main aims of HS2 is to boost regional growth and help re-balance our economy. We felt it was important to reflect this by locating our bid centre in Birmingham, and to further increase Hitachi’s presence across the UK.”

The final bid will be submitted from the new Birmingham centre to HS2 Ltd by February 2019 and the £2.7bn contract to design and build 54 trains is due to be awarded in March 2020.

Separately, HS2 Ltd is setting out its programme of skills, employment and education interventions to ensure the delivery of the HS2 project whilst aiming to make the UK a worldwide leader in high speed rail.

It has launched a skills strategy focused on how it will create a sustainable pipeline of jobs and skills for companies.

Mark Thurston, chief executive of HS2 Ltd, said: “Our programme will tackle the skills challenges faced by the wider transport infrastructure sector, and ensure the UK has the best skills to deliver HS2 as well as major infrastructure projects in the future.”

Initiatives will be introduced over the next 12 months to stimulate interest in STEM subjects and encourage more young people into transport infrastructure related careers.

Opportunities will be opened up through a new Job Brokerage Service to help people access the jobs created by the HS2 supply chain, and a new Secondary Education Engagement Programme will inspire the next generation to enter transport infrastructure careers.

HS2 Minister Nusrat Ghani MP added: “HS2 will provide the backbone of our future rail network and is already driving jobs and economic growth across the country. HS2 already supports over 7,000 jobs – forecast to reach around 15,000 by 2020 – and is building the talented workforce of the future that this transformative project needs.”