Hitachi & Bombardier: A high-speed legacy

Source: RTM Aug/Sept 2018

Barrie Cottam and Rob Davies, Hitachi Rail and Bombardier HS2 joint venture bid directors, explain how the two companies would harness their railway heritage and global reputation to deliver a world-class fleet for the high-speed line.

Hitachi and Bombardier have come together because we truly believe that this is the best way to deliver an iconic British bullet train that offers the next generation of passenger experience.

We will work in partnership to ensure that this major investment in our future transport system leaves a lasting legacy both across the regions of the UK and for export abroad.

A rich heritage

Our two companies have established global reputations for successfully delivering very high-speed trains. In Japan, Hitachi has developed state-of-the-art welding and propulsion techniques and has been an essential partner in the hugely popular Shinkansen network since it opened in 1964.

We brought 50 years of bullet train engineering experience onto Britain’s only current high-speed rail route, HS1. The Hitachi-built Class 395 Javelin fleet, running between Ashford and St Pancras, achieves some of the highest passenger satisfaction scores in the country. The trains have also had a profound effect on regional growth, boosting the Kent economy by around £300m over the last 10 years, according to independent analysis.

Bombardier has more than 20 years of experience to draw upon for HS2, as we have been involved in some very prestigious projects all across Europe – including four TGV series in France, the AVE S-102 and AVE S-130 in Spain, the ICE family in Germany, and the ETR 500 in Italy. In China we have built over 3,000 high-speed train carriages, including the most recent Zefiro 380.

We were also the first company in Europe to develop and apply a lightweight aluminium car for high-speed trains. Pioneered in the 1990s, this technology meets the highest safety standards. And to keep ahead of train developments, we work closely with our Aerospace Division in order to share expertise in areas such as acoustics, aerodynamics and reliability.

In total, since the 1980s, Bombardier has delivered approximately 3,500 bogies operating at speeds of over 250 km/h in Central and Northern Europe, North America, and China.

Despite being competitors in other markets, Hitachi and Bombardier have worked together on a similar high-speed project to successfully deliver one of Europe’s fastest trains. With a top speed of almost 400km/h, the ETR 1000 for Trenitalia – aka the ‘Red Arrow’ (Frecciarossa), pictured above – not only whisks passengers quickly to their destinations, it also offers them great comfort and style. Interiors were designed by Bertone, which worked on classic super-cars such as Lamborghini and Aston Martin.  

Made in Britain

This best-of-British bid brings a combined existing workforce of over 5,000 people at our established factories in Derby and County Durham, along with extensive supply chains and a network of maintenance facilities across England, Scotland and Wales.

Our two global companies are already developing a new generation of engineers here in Britain, with a strong focus on diversity and inclusion to attract the future talent we need into the rail industry.

The HS2 project can provide the launchpad for further investment in education and learning, adding to our existing partnerships with local schools and the 200 apprentices and graduates we already employ, as well as working with Britain’s universities to develop R&D in high-speed rail technology.

Our joint capabilities will also help to better deliver HS2 as we take up the challenge of delivering a very high-speed train that can travel up to 360km/h on a brand-new rail line between London and the West Midlands, then continue its journey on the classic rail network to serve other major cities such as Manchester, Liverpool, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

UK catalyst

Despite having widespread support of industry, city leaders and all the main political parties, there are still those that are yet to be convinced of the merits of building a completely new rail network in the UK. We fully realise the benefits HS2 will bring.

There is an important role we can play in explaining how to unlock much-needed capacity and deliver a superb passenger experience, but also offer value for taxpayers’ money and sharing investment and growth opportunities across the UK regions.

It can also be the catalyst for developing and selling British products and expertise in overseas markets. The experience that employees and suppliers here will gain by being part of the HS2 supply chain will enable them to better compete for business in expanding high-speed rail markets across the globe, including Asia, the Middle East and the Americas.

Hitachi and Bombardier are already well established in the UK, with regional operations in the Midlands, Yorkshire, the north east, Scotland and Wales. But we want to do more: we want to play a part in helping our partners on this project stimulate economic growth, boost skills, training and employment, expand the rail supply chain across Britain, and explore export opportunities. All of this is possible while giving passengers a travel experience on HS2 services that will be the equal of any high-speed line on the planet.


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