Hitachi High Speed Train

Hitachi Agrees to British High-Speed Rail Deal

Deal completes negotiations begun in 2009 to supply 92 complete trains for inter-city rail project.

Hitachi (IW 1000/22) will supply 596 train carriages for Britain's inter-city high-speed rail project in a deal worth $6.99 billion, the company and the British government said Wednesday.

The giant Japanese conglomerate won the project along with British partner John Laing in 2009 but negotiations had been delayed after a change of government in Britain.

The firms will supply 92 complete trains for the aging fleet on Britain's inter-city rail networks, with Hitachi holding a 70% stake in the consortium while John Laing has 30%.

"I am extremely pleased that after a long period of negotiations, we have been able to complete the formal contract for this project," Hitachi president Hiroaki Nakanishi said in a statement.

Hitachi, whose products range from microchips to railways, has been shifting its business focus from consumer electronics to more stable, large-scale infrastructure projects abroad Hitachi also plans to build a new factory in Newton Aycliffe in northern England to assemble the train cars, aiming to be fully operational by 2015.

The facility is expected to build up to 35 cars a month, creating 730 skilled jobs in addition to 200 jobs for construction at the plant, according to a statement from the UK's department for transport.

"The decision to build almost 600 new inter-city train carriages is great for rail passengers who will experience faster and more comfortable journeys when traveling across Britain on the East Coast and Great Western main lines," British Transport Secretary Justine Greening said in the statement.

The project will replace Britain's current fleet of InterCity 125 High Speed Trains (HSTs) that were originally brought by British Rail in the 1970s and 1980s, the department said.

"A new train factory is fantastic news for Britain and will be welcomed by everyone who wants to see a thriving UK manufacturing sector," Greening said.

The department said the new capacity will mean more seats and less crowding between Britain's major cities.

The new Hitachi express trains can reach speeds of 125 miles per hour.

"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," the UK government statement said.

"A performance regime will encourage the trains to run reliably throughout the life of the fleet."

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2012

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