By Martin Walker
Hitachi Rail Europe has signed a deal to build new trains for the ScotRail franchise.
Hitachi was announced as the preferred bidder for the train deal last October when Dutch operator Abellio won the franchise.
Now the two firms have signed a contract for the provision and maintenance of 70 new trains.
In all, 46 three-car and 24 four-car AT200 EMU trains are being procured to operate along the Edinburgh-Glasgow and Stirling – Alloa –Dunblane lines, and will go into service in late 2017.
The first seven trains are scheduled to be built in Hitachi’s Kasado factory in Japan, with the remaining 63 being built in their flagship Newton Aycliffe train manufacturing facility in the UK, which is currently under construction and will be open this autumn.
Jon Veitch, Hitachi Rail Europe’s general manager for Scotland, said: “We are delighted to be signing this contract with Abellio, which will see the supply of rolling stock and maintenance services for their new ScotRail franchise.
“This forms the start of a long-term partnership to boost passenger services in Scotland, and we will be working closely with the operator to ensure that services are kept to a very high standard across this period.
“This is also the first contract for our recently launched AT200 commuter train.
“With the majority of manufacturing taking place in our Newton Aycliffe factory, this is another sign of our confidence in UK manufacturing and, in line with the delivery of our Class 800 IEP trains, will boost jobs and growth in Scotland and the North East of England.”
The contract also includes a 10-year maintenance deal, with plans currently in place to stable and service the trains at depots in Edinburgh.
The news comes on top of the 866 Class 800/801 train carriages that have been ordered by the Department of Transport for its Intercity Express Programme.
Derek Mackay, Scottish Transport Minister, said: “With the new ScotRail franchise, a number of impressive infrastructure projects and these slick new trains, we are giving Scotland a railway to be proud of.
“Abellio’s winning bid for the ScotRail franchise included several exciting proposals and I look forward to seeing it all take shape from their takeover of the service in just a few weeks.”
Meanwhile, a recent recruitment drive held at the County Durham facility has led to a raft of new appointments.
There will be approximately 200 roles available in 2015 across the company’s engineering, manufacturing, technical and quality assurance teams, as well as vacancies to fill in facilities management, human resources, communications, finance and procurement.
Ultimately, there will be 730 new jobs created at the Hitachi Rail Vehicle Manufacturing Facility in County Durham, with 400 roles to be filled in 2016, when train production starts.
A spokeswoman for Hitachi Rail Europe said the Abellio agreement will not result in additional jobs on top of the 730 being made over the next two years, and that the firm will look to potentially run two simultaneous production lines.