Nearly three and a half years after naming the consortium, the government has confirmed that it will spend £4.5bn on a new fleet of Intercity Express trains. The consortium will be led by Hitachi as the preferred bidder. The Department for Transport said that this means thousands of jobs will be secured and nearly a thousand more created.
The new fleet of trains will be a combination of bi-mode and electric with some of them five carriages long and others nine carriages. They will be able to accelerate faster and this will give the potential for more frequent services. There will be more seats and increased luggage space. Passenger comfort is also a priority and there will also be strict performance targets.
The Agility Trains consortium also includes John Laing and Hitachi is the construction partner. There will be a new factory built at Newton Aycliffe in County Durham where 92 trains will be built. Hitachi is also building a European rail research centre at the new site there. 730 skilled positions will be needed plus a further 200 people for the construction stage.
Hitachi will also be building new maintenance depots in West London, Doncaster, Swansea and Bristol and other depots will be upgraded. Work on the factory in Newton Aycliffe will start next year and it should be fully operational by 2015. The first trains should be operating on the Great Western Line by 2017 and on the East Coast Main Line by 2018.
Justine Greening, the Transport Secretary, said that this is fantastic news for Britain and especially the manufacturing sector. She said the creation of new jobs and the securing of thousands of others is especially good. She added that the building of nearly 600 new intercity carriages is great news for passengers.