Abellio UK, recently awarded the eight-year East Midlands Railway franchise, has selected Hitachi Rail to build its new fleet of intercity trains, a contract worth £400m.
The fleet, comprising 33 five-carriage trains (165 in total), are due to be built at Hitachi Rail UK’s manufacturing facility in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham.
Hitachi Rail UK has already engaged with 65 different suppliers from the East Midlands, awarding a number of multi-million-pound contracts to date, and this new contract is expected to further generate work for businesses across the country.
Since opening in 2015, the County Durham site has reportedly delivered upwards of 450 intercity train carriages into service in the UK.
Inspired by Japanese bullet train technology, the new fleet for the East Midlands Railway (EMR) franchise will be the sixth intercity fleet that Hitachi will deliver to UK train operators.
The new intercity trains are expected to start operating in 2022, serving 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.
Hitachi cited its “proven capability to deliver” as a key factor in being awarded the contract, with Hitachi’s experienced maintenance team service the new fleet at EMR’s Etches Park deport in Derby, further supporting high-level engineering jobs in the East Midlands.
The announcement will come as a relief to the facility’s 750-strong workforce, who faced an uncertain future beyond spring 2020 with no further work following the completion of current commitments.
Last year, the site lost out on a contract to design and manufacture trains to serve the London Underground’s Piccadilly Line. Hitachi put in a joint bid with Bombardier, but the work was awarded to Siemens Mobility.
However, Hitachi Rail has again joined forces with Bombardier to jointly bid for a contract, worth £2.75bn, to design, build and maintain at least 54 trains for Phase One of High Speed Two (HS2).
A pioneering new fleet
The new trains are expected to offer significant aesthetic improvement on the existing fleet, including more seats, modern interiors, air conditioning, Wi-Fi throughout, plug sockets and better passenger information screens.
More importantly, Hitachi says the trains are “quieter and greener”, resulting in lower carbon emissions and a better experience for passengers, stations and communities along the route.
They have the ability to run using electric overhead lines wherever possible, taking advantage of the £1.5bn Midland Main Line upgrade and, when running in diesel mode, will reportedly cut harmful emissions by up to 90% compared to the legacy High Speed Trains.