HS2 deal sees UK get fastest trains in Europe with top speed of 225mph

Britain will get fastest trains in Europe with top speed of 225mph for new HS2 line in £2billion deal with manufacturers Hitachi and Alstom

  • Rolling stock will start off at Hitachi’s plant in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, before being finished and tested at Alstom’s sites in Derby and Crewe
  • Deal to build a fleet of 54 high-speed trains will support 2,500 jobs across Britain
  • Electric trains will run on first section of HS2 railway being built between London and Midlands; and on existing lines serving Glasgow, Liverpool and Manchester.
  • First train expected to roll off production line circa 2027; first passengers could be carried between two and six years later

Britain will get ‘Europe’s fastest trains’ – with a top speed of 225mph – after HS2 today signed a £2billion contract with manufacturers Hitachi and Alstom.

The rolling stock will start off at Hitachi’s plant in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, before being finished and tested at Alstom’s sites in Derby and Crewe.

The deal to build a fleet of 54 high-speed trains will support 2,500 jobs across Britain.

France’s Alstom and Japan’s Hitachi Rail said in a statement that they ‘will deliver Europe’s fastest operational train’, capable of running at maximum speeds of 225mph (362kph).

This will narrowly beat Europe’s current fastest trains – Italy’s Avelia AGV range, built by Alstom – which have a top speed of 223mph (360kph). 

Britain will get ‘Europe’s fastest trains’ – with a top speed of 225mph – after HS2 today signed a £2bn contract with manufacturers Hitachi and Alstom. Above, construction work being carried out for the HS2 line at Long Itchington Wood in Warwickshire today – via a tunnel-boring machine nicknamed ‘Dorothy’ after Dorothy Hodgkin, the first British woman to win the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1964

The rolling stock will start off at Hitachi’s plant in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, before being finished and tested at Alstom’s sites in Derby and Crewe. (Above, construction in Warwickshire on Thursday) 

France’s Alstom and Japan’s Hitachi Rail said in a statement that they ‘will deliver Europe’s fastest operational train’, capable of running at maximum speeds of 225mph (360kph). Over the next five months, the tunnel-boring machine, pictured, will carve a mile-long tunnel before starting all over again for the return leg of the track

The project will build on the Japanese bullet train technology, as well as European high-speed network expertise, to create some of the quietest and most energy-efficient trains in the world, HS2 said.  

The fully electric trains will run on the first section of the new HS2 railway being built between London and the Midlands.

They will operate also on existing railways serving Glasgow, Liverpool and Manchester.

The first stages, including vehicle body assembly and initial fit-out, will be done at Hitachi Rail’s facility at Newton Aycliffe.

The second stage of fit-out and testing will be done at Alstom’s Litchurch Lane factory in Derby.

All the bogies – the framework which houses the wheelsets – will be assembled and maintained at Alstom’s Crewe facility.

The deal to build a fleet of 54 high-speed trains will support 2,500 jobs across Britain. (Pictured, part of the construction site at London Euston train station)

The project will build on the Japanese bullet train technology, as well as European high-speed network expertise, to create some of the quietest and most energy-efficient trains in the world, HS2 said

The first train is expected to roll off the production line around 2027, and, following rigorous testing, its first passengers could be carried between two and six years later.

Each train will be around 200m (656ft) long, with the option to couple two units together to create a 400m (1,312ft) long train with up to 1,100 seats.

The trains will be able to run on the new HS2 network as well as existing lines, and will halve many journey times between major cities.

HS2 chief executive Mark Thurston said: ‘Today is a massive day for HS2. The trains that will be built in Derby, Newton Aycliffe and Crewe will transform rail travel – offering passengers unparalleled levels of reliability, speed and comfort, and help in the fight to remove carbon from our transport system.

‘I’d like to congratulate Alstom and Hitachi and we look forward to working with them to bring these exciting new trains to passengers across the UK.’

HS2’s deal with Hitachi and Alstom had been subject to a legal challenge by rival manufacturer Siemens.

It is understood that Siemens will now seek damages about the procurement process, and HS2 will ‘robustly’ defend itself.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps had been due to attend the contract signing ceremony at Hitachi but pulled out because he has to self-isolate following contact with Australian Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, who has tested positive for coronavirus.

Speaking via Zoom, the Cabinet minister said it was ‘stunning news’ for the North East, Derby, Crewe and also Birmingham, where the trains will be maintained, following a 12-year contract being agreed.

He said: ‘Today’s announcement places Britain firmly at the forefront of the high-speed rail revolution with these state-of-the-art trains serving communities right across the country from London to Glasgow.’ 

Asked about Siemens’ legal action, Mr Shapps said the process to chose Hitachi and Alstom was ‘full and proper’ and their bid was the best.  

The news comes one month after Boris Johnson scaled back his HS2 plans for northern England amid soaring costs.

HS2, forecast to cost more than £100billion of taxpayers’ money, is to be built in stages.

The initial leg – connecting London to Birmingham – is due to open by around 2029-2033.

The second phase, extending the line north to Manchester but no longer to Leeds, was not due to be completed before 2035-2040.

‘HS2 is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform Britain by building a sustainable transport system fit for the 21st Century,’ added Nick Crossfield, Alstom managing director, UK & Ireland.

HS2 is Britain’s second high-speed rail project after HS1, which links London with the Channel Tunnel that then connects the UK to France.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps had been due to attend the contract signing ceremony at Hitachi today but pulled out because he has to self-isolate following contact with Australian Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, who has tested positive for coronavirus

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