HeadlineNews Britain’s largest-ever rolling stock or de
Anger in Derby as Government shuns UK plant in £7.5bn Inter City Express train contract
A glimpse of the future. How the electric version of the ‘Super Express’ will look. HITACHI
JAPANESE conglomerate Hitachi has been selected by the Department for Transport to build the next generation of high-speed trains for the UK. It is the most valuable single rolling stock order ever placed for the British railway network. The Agility Trains consortium, which comprises Hitachi, Barclays Private Equity and John Laing, has been given preferred bidder status for the Intercity Express Programme (IEP), narrowly beating the rival Express Rail Alliance (ERA), which was headed by Bombardier and Siemens, together with Angel Trains and Babcock & Brown. The DfT’s decision to select a Japanese manufacturer rather than Bombardier – which owns Britain’s lastsurviving large trainbuilding plant at Derby – was condemned as “disgraceful” in the Midlands city, where an angry workforce threatened to stage protests. It is known that the main part of the construction contract – the manufacturing of an approximate 1,400 bodies and 2,800 bogies – is to be undertaken in Japan, yet it is claimed that as much as 70 per cent of the contract value will be spent in Britain and that “some 12,500 jobs will be created or safeguarded”. Industry insiders say in reality the proportion of UK-based ones is likely to be small, and that much of the work will centre around the 20-year maintenance contract. Hitachi will build a small assembly
plant in the UK but admits that it will employ only between 200 and 500 staff. It also says there will be a knockon effect safeguarding jobs in the supply chain, but no figures have been given to substantiate it. Said Bob Laxton, Labour MP for Derby North: “This is a crass decision which gives the Japanese an opportunity of getting into the UK market. I don’t believe for one moment the figure of 12,500 jobs, because work will be brought from overseas.” Both bids were very close but Hitachi’s decision to form a team with Laing and Barclays last June, having already been shortlisted in its own right, enabled the Government to say it was choosing “a British-led consortium” and therefore clinched the deal. Agility’s name for the IEP is ‘Super Express Train’ (SET) and the electric versions of the new trains will replace the Class 91/Mk 4 and HST fleets on the ECML, and (almost certainly) the HSTs on the Great Western main lines. The hybrid versions are likely to be employed on NXEC’s Aberdeen, Inverness, Harrogate and Lincoln routes, and also on Great Western routes in the far south-west, which are not expected to be electrified in the first phase of the expected GW wiring. Following delivery of a pre-series build for testing and crew-training purposes, the first production trains are expected to enter East Coast service in late 2013, replacing diesel HSTs. Production will then switch to the
How first class will appear inside SET. A Japanese feel in standard class.
GW Main Line and when all those HSTs have been replaced, attention will turn back to the ECML and replacement of the electric IC225s by 2015, providing a million extra seats per year. The new trains will also operate a King’s CrossCambridge service. Finally, a fleet of half-length SETs will be built for EustonNorthampton commuter duties. Three possible British sites for a new train manufacturing plant have been unveiled: These are at Ashby-de-laZouch, Leicestershire (which is only 12 miles from Bombardier’s plant at Derby!) Sheffield and Gateshead. The plant would initially employ up to 200 staff, which would extend to 500 assembling 30 vehicles a month. Establishment of the facility means that
Hitachi is looking to future British orders and could also have its eyes on refurbishment activities. Confirmed Alistair Dormer, general manager of Hitachi Europe: “Our commitment in the UK is for the long term. Through this manufacturing programme and involvement in other rapid commuter, high-speed passenger and rail infrastructure projects, we aim to deliver quality and reliability which will benefit our UK customers and provide a basis for business in continental Europe.” To maintain the trains, new depots will be established at Bristol, Reading, Doncaster, Leeds and west London (the latter probably in the former Eurostar depot at North Pole). Other servicing
HS2 close to reality as NR chief engineer takes over New Corby station op
NETWORK Rail’s chief engineer, Professor Andrew McNaughton, is to head the new High Speed Two company (whose formation was revealed in last month’s issue). The company has a mandate to investigate costs for HS2 by the end of the year. The line would be built in sections – London to Heathrow then Birmingham, Manchester and Scotland – and shot up the political agenda in February when Prime Minister Gordon Brown went public with the words: “One way to stimulate the economy in the North and South, to tackle pollution and diminish the demand for increased airport capacity, would be to invest in a national high-speed rail link. We are prepared to make a commitment to that project.”
McNaughton will be seconded to the new company for 12 months and will lead NR’s contribution to the DfT project. Other NR staff will join him later. He will help specify infrastructure and train design, operation, maintenance – and route, which is now expected to run parallel either to the Chiltern railway or the M40 motorway for part of the way. ■ MAGLEV RULED OUT: Transport Minister Lord Adonis has virtually ruled out the chances of a Maglevbased high-speed line in Britain. Asked whether HS2 – or another British high-speed line – might be built to carry magnetic levitation trains, he said high cost would militate against it, as would the fact that it couldn’t be integrated into the rest of the network.
6 • The Railway Magazine • April 2009