By Martin Walker
The financial negotiations for Hitachi’s £5.8bn Intercity Express Programme (IEP) which will be delivered in Newton Aycliffe have been signed off by the Government.
The British Department for Transport and Agility Trains (with its main shareholders Hitachi and John Laing) have reached financial close for the fleet of Class 800 series trains set to run on the East Coast Main Line as part of the IEP.
Hitachi expect its £82m facility on Aycliffe Business Park to be up and running in mid-2015, with its 730 staff to start production of the Class 800 series trains in 2016.
Commercial close of contract for the initial fleet of 92 trains (596 carriages) for the East Coast Main Line and the Great Western Main Line was announced in July 2012, at the same time as financial close was reached for the Great Western Main Line route.
In July 2013, the Department for Transport announced the decision to place an additional order of 30 trains (270 carriages) for the East Coast route with Agility Trains.
Toshiaki Higashihara, President & COO of Hitachi, said: “I am extremely pleased that a total of 866 Hitachi train cars will be running in the UK, which is the birthplace of railways.
“I would like to express my very sincere gratitude to all those involved, and particularly to the members of the Japanese and British governments who offered their strong support and invested great efforts in bringing this project to fruition.
“Hitachi will continue to provide highly reliable, comfortable passenger services with low environmental impact, by establishing a new manufacturing base equipped with the world’s most advanced production facilities.”
Alistair Dormer, Hitachi Rail Global CEO of Hitachi, said: “I am delighted by today’s news of financial close for the last tranche of trains for the Intercity Express Programme.
“Agility Trains has successfully raised the finance for this important infrastructure investment in the UK, bringing all contractual and financial agreements to a close.
“For Hitachi Rail, today’s announcement signals a new phase in the Intercity Express Programme.
“With all finance raised, our teams across the UK and in Japan, jointly with Agility Trains, can now fully focus on delivering all aspects of this programme, which will bring major improvements for passengers across two of the busiest train routes in Britain.”
The construction of Hitachi’s Aycliffe facility, which will include a research and development centre, is now well under way, while work in other areas of the IEP is also progressing.
The interior design of the trains is at an advanced stage with final sign-off expected shortly.
Three pre-series trains will be manufactured this year in Hitachi’s factory in Kasado, Japan, with arrival of the trains in the UK expected in the first half of 2015.
Suppliers for the main bought-in systems on the trains have been selected, and a large number of British-based companies are directly bringing their products and expertise to the programme.
Recruitment of the senior team for the facility has started, and large-scale recruitment of what will eventually be 730 staff is planned for 2015.
In order to fulfill the demanding requirements for dependability and availability of the trains, Hitachi Rail has started constructing a new, state-of-the-art maintenance depot in Bristol (Stoke Gifford), is refurbishing the North Pole depot in west London and upgrading the maintenance facility in Swansea. Construction of a new depot in Doncaster will start shortly.
All work is on schedule and the trains are expected to enter passenger service in 2017 on the Great Western Main Line and in 2018 on the East Coast Main Line.