Hitachi wins contract to build UK 'bullet' trains

Transport secretary announces 30 new trains from Japanese firm for London to Aberdeen route

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The Independent Online

The Government has ordered a £1.2 billion train fleet modelled on London 2012's  Olympic Javelin for the East Coast Mainline that runs from the capital to Aberdeen.

Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin announced today that  Hitachi Rail Europe will manufacture 30 nine-car electric trains to replace the Intercity 225 stock that entered service over 20 years ago. These Class 800 series vehicles are essentially the British versions of the high speed Japanese bullet trains.

Although Hitachi is a Japanese firm, transport sources close to Whitehall were keen to stress that everything from interior lighting built in Essex to gangways manufactured in Derby comes from the UK. The trains themselves will be produced in  a County Durham factory that the Department for Transport said represents an £82 million investment in the North-east of England.

One industry source admitted the decision to go with Hitachi could be “contentious”, but pointed out that “these are still British jobs in a global economy”. The source added: “Nearly all the parts are manufactured in the UK and you can safely say that the 'baby bullet' is built in Britain.”

McLoughlin said: “This new order for Class 800 Series trains is part of the Government's commitment to invest in our nation's infrastructure.

"This will not only deliver significant benefits to passengers by slashing journey times and bolstering capacity, but will stimulate economic growth through improved connectivity in some of Britain's biggest cities."

The trains can closely control temperatures in the carriages, provide power sockets at every seat and can freshly cook 100 breakfasts or dinners in a two-hour journey. More than 90 of these Class 800 Series have already been ordered for other parts of the Intercity Express programme.

The Government also hopes that the order will help the UK develop the skills and manufacturing base to once again compete for train exports in European markets.