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Biggest investment in trains for a generation
02/03/2009 | Channel:
Contracts, New Products & Services, Rolling Stock
Passengers on some of the country’s busiest rail routes will benefit from the single biggest investment in Intercity trains for a generation, Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon has announced.
Agility Trains has been selected as the preferred bidder for a £7.5 billion contract to build and maintain a fleet of new Super Express trains for the Great Western and East Coast main lines. These will replace existing high speed trains which are
20-30 years old.
Agility – a British-led consortium comprising John Laing, Hitachi and Barclays – will make a significant inward investment as part of this contract. They will build a new train manufacturing plant in the UK, as well as depots in Bristol, Reading, Doncaster, Leeds and west London with upgrades to existing depots throughout Great Britain. This will create or safeguard some 12,500 manufacturing jobs in these regions.
The first of the new trains will enter service on the East Coast main line in 2013. Trains will enter full service from 2015, linking London with Cambridge, Leeds, Hull, York, Newcastle and Edinburgh and linking London with the Thames Valley, Bristol and South Wales.
The Super Express trains are part of the overall Intercity Express Programme (IEP), which includes a package of other investments to improve the capacity and capability of the routes. This has been led by the Department for Transport, with assistance from across the rail industry, since November 2005. The Programme seeks to replace the distinctive ‘Intercity 125’ High Speed Train (HST) diesel fleet and ‘Intercity 225’ electric fleet procured by British Rail during the 1970s and 1980s with a new, higher capacity, more environmentally friendly train. The new trains will operate on the East Coast and Great Western Main Lines, with options for deployment on London commuter services on the West Coast Main Line and on services between London and the West of England (Penzance and Exeter).
The fleet will comprise an electric, self-powered (diesel), and a bi-mode variant, the latter being able to make use of an electric or a diesel power source at the end of the train. 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. The Super Express trains will be cleaner, greener and generate less noise than the trains that they will replace. Despite being larger, the new trains will be up to 17 per cent lighter than their counterparts, meaning that they will be more energy efficient and faster at accelerating.
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. The diesel and bi-mode versions will benefit from the latest hybrid power technology which will reduce fuel consumption by up to 15 per cent.
Geoff Hoon also announced that the Department is in advanced negotiations with National Express East Anglia to provide 120 new carriages for the Stansted Express service from London Liverpool Street to Stansted Airport. The preferred bidder for this order is Bombardier Transportation, who plan to build them in Derby and therefore safeguard jobs there.