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Hitachi and Bombardier team up for HS2 train deal as CAF joins the race

In a major and unprecedented move, rail giants Hitachi and Bombardier have announced that they will be joining forces in their bid to design, build and deliver a fleet of bespoke HS2 trains.

The two companies had been revealed as bidders for the lucrative £2.75bn rolling stock deal back in November last year, alongside competition from Alstom, Talgo S.L.U and Siemens.

But they have today said that they will be submitting a joint bid to fully exploit the benefits of their combined 5,000-strong British workforce to market themselves as a world-class team of established manufacturers.

The near-£3bn train contract requires at least 54 units that will run as part of HS2’s first phase. The new rolling stock must also be ‘classic compatible’ so that trains can travel on the current network to other cities across the country in order to maximise benefits.

The formal tendering process for the major deal is due to start later this year, with a contract to be awarded in late 2019.

In a statement, Bombardier and Hitachi argued that they can deliver “the most efficient and advanced rolling stock for Europe’s most demanding and exciting transport project,” and claimed the joint bid would support the government’s aims for boosting UK-based jobs, skills and suppliers.

Their combined operations include train factories in Derby and Newton Aycliffe, extensive UK supply chains, and a network of maintenance facilities across England, Scotland and Wales. Separately, they are also currently responsible for building the lion’s share of the country’s new fleets.

As part of their argument to the DfT, the companies said they already have a tried-and-tested high-speed team after successfully delivering “one of Europe’s fastest trains” in Italy with a top speed of almost 400km/h. Hitachi also built the original Shinkansen bullet train in Japan over 50 years ago, while Bombardier manufactures more than 3,000 high-speed train carriages for China.

Karen Boswell, Hitachi Rail Europe’s managing director, said: “By joining together in partnership with Bombardier, we will draw on a huge wealth of UK experience and the best in modern technology – including our pioneering ‘bullet train’ experience.

“Our aim is to deliver a new British icon that will be recognised around the world – a Spitfire for the British railway.”

Whilst the other bidders are strong contenders and have an established reputation across UK rail, a joint venture between Bombardier and Hitachi could put them at an advantage.

Other selling points of their offer include “responsible procurement” in terms of long-term employment and cutting down on their environmental impact. The ETR 1000 train, for example, built for Trenitalia, used 85% recycled materials.

CAF joins the race

Because of their decision to join forces, HS2 Ltd has invited CAF to tender for the rolling stock contract as well.

A spokesperson said: “In light of the recent decision by Bombardier and Hitachi to form a joint venture, we have now invited CAF to tender for our rolling stock procurement to ensure a robust competition. All the bidders have been notified of the change to the shortlist and delivery timetables for the new trains have not changed.”

CAF, which has recently been chosen to deliver 77 trains for Wales, welcomed this announcement. Its UK director, Richard Garner, said that the Spanish firm’s Oaris high-speed trains use the latest technology to offer comfortable, safe and digitally-enabled travel at speeds of up to 360km/h.

It plans to build the trains in its manufacturing facility currently being built in Newport, Wales.


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