Newton Aycliffe train builders Hitachi Rail have been shortlisted to the final five bidders for the £2.75 billion HS2 contract.
The government revealed on Thursday morning that four manufacturers have been whittled down to deliver Britain’s next generation of state-of-the-art high speed trains, which will carry tens of thousands of people every day across the UK’s new high speed network and beyond.
Operating at speeds of up to 225mph (360kph), the new fleet will deliver unparalleled levels of reliability, speed and comfort as well as providing much-needed extra capacity between the UK’s major cities and giving a boost to high tech skills and expertise in the UK.
Hitachi, which opened its rail manufacturing facility on Aycliffe Business Park just over two years ago, will go head-to-head with rivals Alstom Transport, Bombardier, Patentes Talgo and Siemens for the lucrative government deal.
They will all be invited to tender for the contracts in spring 2018, which will cover the design, build and maintenance of at least 54 trains coming into service from 2026, and the winning tender will be revealed in 2019.
Hitachi Rail managing director Karen Boswell said: “We’re delighted to have been selected for the next stage of the rolling stock procurement process for HS2.
“We look forward to further developing our proposals for this hugely exciting and important project, which will deliver enormous benefits for the whole of the UK.”
Following on from the opening of the new National College for High Speed Rail in Birmingham and Doncaster, this is the latest milestone passed as High Speed Two (HS2) becomes a reality.
In total, HS2 will create around 25,000 jobs and 2,000 apprenticeships both directly in construction and also across the UK-wide supply chain.
The first trains will begin to roll off the production line in the early 2020s. The investment is expected to create hundreds of jobs and boost Britain’s skills and expertise in the high speed rail sector.
HS2 Minister Paul Maynard said: “Thousands of skilled British jobs and apprenticeships will be created by HS2, which gets a step closer as we reveal the companies shortlisted to build the high speed trains.
“HS2 will see some of the world’s fastest trains connecting our great cities across the north and Midlands, creating an economy that works for everyone.
“But announcements like this show how the benefits of HS2 will resonate far beyond the opening of the new railway. HS2’s legacy of jobs and skills is already being created.
Providing a world class passenger experience is at the heart of the requirements for the £2.75 billion contract.
The new trains will also serve destinations beyond the core HS2 network, including York, Newcastle, Liverpool, the North West, Glasgow and Edinburgh.
The new trains will be required to meet HS2’s design and performance needs and the highest standards internationally for passenger experience, noise reduction, and environmental sustainability, while maximising skills, employment and growth opportunities.
The successful bidder will also maintain the fleet from the dedicated rolling stock depot planned for Washwood Heath in Birmingham. The area will also be home to the HS2 Network Control Centre, which will together create hundreds of skilled jobs.