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Hitachi and DfT finalise deal to build £2.7bn new ECML fleet

Financial close has been reached on the new fleet for the East Coast Main Line under the Intercity Express Programme (IEP).

Together with the financial close on the Great Western announced last summer, this means that 866 train cars in total will be provided and maintained for 27.5 years by Hitachi as part of the Agility Trains consortium.

Alistair Dormer, Hitachi Rail global CEO, said the announcement “signals a new phase” for the £5.7bn IEP, with the latest contract close worth £2.7bn. “With all finance raised, our teams across the UK and in Japan, jointly with Agility Trains, can now fully focus on delivering all aspects of this programme, which will bring major improvements for passengers across two of the busiest train routes in Britain. The construction of our train factory in County Durham is under way and we are looking forward to seeing all Class 800 series trains for the ECML being manufactured by our 730 staff in north east England.”

Toshiaki Higashihara, President & COO of Hitachi, Ltd added: “I am extremely pleased that a total of 866 Hitachi train cars will be running in the UK, which is the birthplace of railways. I would like to express my very sincere gratitude to all those involved, and particularly to the members of the Japanese and British governments who offered their strong support and invested great efforts in bringing this project to fruition.”

Hitachi says the trains’ interior design is at an “advanced stage” with final sign-off expected shortly. Three pre-series trains will be manufactured this year in Hitachi’s factory in Kasado, Japan, with arrival of the trains in the UK expected in the first half of 2015.

IEP suppliers resize 635332371546096000

The £82m Newton Aycliffe assembly factory is under construction, and should be operational in the middle of next year. The senior team to run the factory is being recruited, with the bulk of the workforce to be hired next year.

Hitachi Rail has also started buildings its new maintenance depot in Bristol at Stoke Gifford, is refurbishing the North Pole depot in west London and upgrading the maintenance facility in Swansea. Construction of a new depot in Doncaster will start shortly.

All work is on schedule and the 122 trains are expected to enter passenger service in 2017 on the GWML and in 2018 on the ECML.

The contract specifications are for the “provision into daily service of the following cleaned, serviced and maintained trains”:

  • 21x nine-car electric trains and 36x five-car bi-mode trains for GWML into passenger service each weekday (369 vehicles)
  • Provision of 12 x five-car electric trains, 10 x five-car bi-mode trains, 13 x nine-car bi-mode trains and 30 x nine-car electric trains for ECML into passenger service each weekday (497 vehicles)

The bi-mode trains are Class 800, while the pure electric trains are Class 801. The under-floor diesel generators can eventually be removed if and when electrification of the network allows it.

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The European Investment Bank joined a consortium of international banks to finance the deployment of the 65 new Super Express Trains for the ECML to replace the Intercity 125s and 225s.

The EIB’s vice president Jonathan Taylor said: “Replacing existing Intercity trains on the ECML will benefit passengers, increase capacity on the route and significantly cut journey times on one of Britain’s busiest intercity routes.”

The other funders are Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC), Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi UFJ (BTMU), Development Bank of Japan (DBJ), HSBC, Lloyds, Mitsubishi Trust, Mizuho, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC), Société Générale and Crédit Agricole.

Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “We are building a world class rail system and the IEP is a key part of that. These new trains will transform rail travel between many of the great towns and cities of England and Scotland. This deal is further proof that our long-term economic plans are on track, creating jobs and breathing new life into the UK’s train-building industry.”

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