£4.5 billion investment in new trains creates new jobs
More than 900 jobs will be created and thousands more secured after Transport Secretary Justine Greening approved a £4.5bn contract to supply Britain with the next generation of intercity trains.
In a major boost to the UK’s manufacturing industry, 596 railway carriages will be built at a brand new train factory in the north east of England.
Agility Trains, a consortium made up of Hitachi and John Laing, has been awarded the contract to build and maintain the trains under the Intercity Express Programme (IEP), the project to replace Britain’s Intercity 125 trains with new higher capacity modern trains.
Hitachi will assemble an intercity fleet of 92 complete trains at a new purpose-built factory in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, in the process creating 730 skilled jobs with a further 200 jobs during construction of the factory itself and securing thousands more in the UK supply chain. The company will also locate its European rail research and development capabilities on the site which will further enhance the factory’s ability to win rail contracts across Europe.
As well as building the new state-of-the-art assembly facility, Hitachi will construct maintenance depots in Bristol, Swansea, west London and Doncaster, and will upgrade existing maintenance depots throughout Britain.
The IEP train fleet will be comprised of electric and bi-mode trains, some five vehicles long and others nine vehicles. These will be faster accelerating than existing stock, and will offer the potential for more frequent services. The higher train capacity will mean more seats and less crowding between Britain’s major cities. The modern vehicles will offer a step-change in passenger comfort through increased carry-on luggage space, electronic seat reservations, and no compromise on leg-room. A performance regime will encourage the trains to run reliably throughout the life of the fleet.
EP is the programme to replace Britain’s fleet of Intercity 125 High Speed Trains (HSTs) that were originally deployed by British Rail in the 1970s and 1980s.
The eventual service pattern will be the responsibility of the future franchisees, although the first phase of the new trains could operate on the following routes:
Great Western: London – Cardiff – Swansea, London – Oxford – Worcester – Hereford, London – Gloucester – Cheltenham, London – Bath – Bristol.
There are also options for ordering further trains, which could operate on the following route
Great Western: London – Exeter – Penzance (These would presumably be Bi-modal HST replacements.
The contract structure passes the responsibility for constructing depots and maintaining trains to Agility Trains. The Train Operating Company will pay Agility Trains “Set Availability Payments” for each train that reports for duty each day and remains reliable during the operational period. The Department is providing a “Usage Guarantee” to Agility that a Train Operating Company will be in place to make use of the new trains.
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. Both the electric and bi-mode versions of these trains will include regenerative braking, a system whereby electricity is re-cycled back through the overhead wires when the driver applies the brakes.
Introducing the bi-mode option for the Intercity Express Programme is estimated to save around £200 million (net present value) as compared to introducing a fleet of all-electric trains to be coupled to a diesel locomotive beyond the electrified sections of the railway.
The 125 mph (200kph) 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 UK use. 26m vehicles are standard in mainland Europe. The faster journey times will also allow operators to run more frequent services.