Nearly 500 new carriages will be delivered to boost passenger services between London and Scotland
The transformation of rail travel on the key intercity route between London and Scotland has taken a major step forward after Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin confirmed today (16 April 2014) that funding had been secured to build a new fleet of state-of-the-art trains.
Under the new £2.7 billion contract, nearly 500 new carriages will be manufactured at Hitachi Rail Europe’s purpose-built factory in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, in a deal that will create hundreds of local jobs.
The Class 800 trains will start running on the East Coast Main Line from 2018 as part of the government’s £5.7 billion Intercity Express Programme (IEP). The new trains will provide significant benefits to passengers, with 19 per cent more seats on each train, reduced journey times between London, Leeds, Newcastle and Edinburgh by up to 15 minutes, and improved reliability.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said:
“We are building a world class rail system and the Intercity Express Programme 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.”
The Intercity Express Programme will see a total of 866 carriages manufactured at Newton Aycliffe for use on the East Coast and Great Western Main Lines, creating 730 jobs locally.
In addition to the 497 carriages confirmed today for the East Coast, a further 369 carriages will start to run on the Great Western from 2017. Funding for these carriages was agreed in 2012.
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 new 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 Main 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.
Alistair Dormer, Hitachi Rail Global CEO of Hitachi Ltd, said:
“This is an important milestone in the delivery of Class 800 series trains for the East Coast Main Line. Hitachi Rail has been working closely with the Department for Transport, train operators and passenger groups to design the new trains. We are delighted that the success of the programme to date has attracted interest by world-class financiers and we look forward to building these trains in our new manufacturing plant in County Durham.”