Posted 12th February 2009 | 13 Comments
Hitachi to power new ‘British’ intercity trains and Bombardier to build 120 coaches
Hitachi Super Express train promotional video.
GOVERNMENT talk of early mainline electrification has been muddied by an announcement that a consortium—described as ‘British led’ but based on Hitachi Japanese technology, including hybrid systems, —has been selected to build a fleet of so-called Super Express trains to replace the 20-30 year old InterCity 125 diesel-powered trains.
Bombardier, at present Britain’s only remaining train builder, had joined with Siemens of Germany to bid for the £7.5 billion contract. But in what seems to be a sop to Bombardier, the Department of Transport has announced the company has been selected to build 120 new carriages for the Stansted Express service, operated by National Express East Anglia between London Liverpool Street and the Essex airport.
The new Hitachi powered ‘Super Express’ trains will be based on a mix of diesel, electric and bi-mode diesel-and-electric power systems and will be built by Agility Trains, a consortium comprising John Laing Projects and Developments, Hitachi and Barclays.
The Government’s announcement said the trains would be manufactured in Great Britain, with the creation of a new manufacturing plant—although no location for this has been announced—and maintained at depots in Bristol, Reading, Doncaster, Leeds and west London, as well as at upgraded existing depots throughout Great Britain.
According to today’s announcement by the Department for Transport: “The first of the new trains will enter service on the East Coast mainline in 2013. Trains will enter full service from 2015, linking London with Cambridge, Leeds, Hull, York, Newcastle and Edinburgh and linking London with the Thames Valley, Bristol and South Wales. Government rail experts working alongside the rail industry have created a new specification for these trains that will offer more seats, more reliable services and reduced journey times.”
Inclusion of Cambridge and Hull and in the future service pattern is new.
Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon also announced that the Transport Department is in “advanced negotiations” with National Express East Anglia to provide 120 new carriages for the Stansted Express service. “The preferred bidder for this order is Bombardier Transportation, who plan to build them in Derby and therefore safeguard jobs there.”
Previously the DfT had invited tenders for 200 additional coaches — but a new fleet for Stansted Express was not included.
Speaking of both the Super Express and Stansted Express projects, Mr Hoon said: “This announcement demonstrates that this Government is prepared to invest, even in difficult economic times, by improving our national infrastructure. It is good news for the British Economy that over 12,500 jobs will be created and safeguarded; good news for the regions that the Government is supporting significant inward investment; and good news for passengers that we are taking the steps necessary to improve their rail journeys.”
Many rail industry observers believe that the likelihood of an electrification programme makes a diesel-powered version of the new Super Express model unnecessary. Last month Geoff Hoon said that a decision on electrification of the most heavily used parts of the Great Western mainline from Paddington and the Midland mainline north of Bedford will be announced later this year, “alongside decisions on the deployment of the new inter city express trains.”
Today’s announcement by the DfT said: “The fleet will comprise an electric, self-powered (diesel), and a bi-mode variant, the latter being able to make use of an electric or a diesel power source at the end of the train. This is the first time in recent history that a bi-mode train has been earmarked for the UK rail network. Bi-mode trains are common on some mainland European national rail systems.”
The DfT added: “The 125 mph (200kph) Super Express trains will reduce overcrowding as they will be longer, the new carriages will be 26m in length as opposed to the 23m in Intercity vehicles currently in use. This will mean that they will carry up to 21 per cent more passengers per train than current rolling stock. The faster journey times will also allow operators to run more frequent services.
“A typical journey between London and Leeds will shorten by around 10 mins, between London and Edinburgh by 12 mins, between London and Bristol by 10 mins and between London and Cardiff by 15 mins.”
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