Funding has finally been secured to bring new high-speed trains to a key Scotland to London route in a £2.7 billion job-boosting contract.
The UK government announced yesterday that a total of 497 carriages for the East Coast line will be built at Hitachi Rail Europe’s purpose-built factory in Newton Aycliffe, Co Durham, creating 730 jobs.
The Class 800 trains will start running on the line, which connects London to Edinburgh and beyond, in 2018. Hitachi is also building 369 carriages to run on the Great Western line from 2017 under a funding agreement reached in 2012.
Yesterday’s announcement finally paves the way for the long-running Intercity Express Programme (IEP) saga to reach a conclusion. It was as far back as February 2009 that the Labour government announced that the Hitachi-led consortium Agility Trains was the preferred bidder for the IEP. However, a series of difficulties meant that the final contract-award decision was delayed for some time.
The contract to deliver the carriages has been agreed with Agility Trains, a consortium of Hitachi Rail Europe and John Laing.
As well as building the manufacturing facility at Newton Aycliffe, Hitachi will construct maintenance depots at sites including Bristol and Doncaster, and is refurbishing and upgrading depots across the Great Western and East Coast lines.
Hitachi recently announced its plans to move its global rail headquarters to the UK, further underlining the confidence in the UK economy and rail market.