Hitachi wins £400m contract to boost factory in County Durham
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Hitachi Rail has won a £400m train building contract that will boost its plant in County Durham.
Abellio UK, which was recently awarded the new eight-year East Midlands Railway (EMR), has confirmed that it has now awarded a contract to build a new fleet of intercity trains to Hitachi.
The 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.
The work will be a huge boost to the Hitachi plant, which had no more work after the current contracts it is working on run out.
There are currently around 700 people working at the site, with the firm also hoping to win a contract to build new trains for the Tyne and Wear Metro.
Hitachi said it would also be working with 65 suppliers in the East Midlands, though Hitachi’s win will be a blow for Derby firm Bombardier, which had hoped to win the work.
Karen Boswell, managing director for Hitachi Rail UK, said: “Today’s announcement will be welcomed in workshops and engineering centres across the country, thanks to our large network of UK suppliers. 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.
“Hitachi is delighted that EMR passengers will soon be receiving the very latest model of our new intercity trains, which are already proving popular and increasing satisfaction among passengers in other parts of the country.”
The new trains will offer more seats than current East Midlands trains, along with air conditioning, free Wi-Fi throughout, plug sockets and better passenger information screens.
Abellio has ordered 33 five-carriage trains, which will regularly be operated in 10-carriage formations. The trains will have lower carbon emissions and are able to run using electric overhead lines wherever possible, taking advantage of the £1.5bn Midland Main Line upgrade.
Since opening in 2015, Hitachi’s state-of-the-art manufacturing facility has already delivered over 450 intercity train carriages into service, with its Azuma trains operating for the first time on part of the East Coast mainline this week.
Abellio (UK) managing director Dominic Booth 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.”