Press release

Strengthening Britain’s train-building industry

Rail Industry Supply Chain Forum announced to strengthen rail industry.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Vince Cable and Patrick McLoughlin at the visit

The creation of a new forum to strengthen the British rail industry at home and abroad has been announced by ministers during a visit to the site of Britain’s newest train factory.

The Rail Industry Supply Chain Forum was announced by both Secretary of State for Transport, Patrick McLoughlin, and the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, Vince Cable, when they visited the site of Hitachi’s new £82 million manufacturing facility at Newton Aycliffe, in County Durham, home of the new Intercity Express Trains.

The first IEP trains will start operating to Wales and the south west by 2017 and along the east coast a year later. Once the full fleet is operational in 2020 they will provide a step change in speed, reliability comfort and more seats for passengers.

IEP train

Secretary of State for Transport Patrick McLoughlin said:

The Intercity Express Programme is part of the government’s commitment to investing in our nation’s infrastructure. Once they are on the network they will slash journey times, boost capacity to many of our cities in the south west and up the east coast to Scotland.

Building these new trains is supporting jobs and manufacturing across the UK. Like our plans for a national high speed rail network, these new faster trains will help stimulate economic growth by improving connections between our major cities.

Secretary of State for Business, Vince Cable, said:

Hitachi’s decision to base its european factory in Newton Aycliffe shows the UK is an attractive place for international businesses to invest and grow. It also underlines the industrial benefits of the rail revolutions now taking place in the UK. As well as attracting inward investment, we also need to develop a strong, co-ordinated and competitive supply chain here which complements and supports other industry initiatives.

The creation of the Rail Supply Chain Forum will ensure we are working in partnership with industry in line with our industrial strategy, so British businesses are better able to win work both here and abroad.

With increasing numbers of passengers set to use our railways over the coming years, we also need to train and encourage more young people to enter the industry. The government has invested in a new rail training academy in Northampton which will address skills shortages in traction and rolling stock. We are also creating a new Rail Supply Chain Forum to help British companies to win work both here and abroad.

The establishment of the forum will bring together DfT, BIS and industry stakeholders to develop an industrial strategy to maximise the economic potential of the UK rail sector.

Terence Watson, the UK President of Alstom, chair the forum and over the coming weeks said he will work closely with industry and government stakeholders to consider the membership, operation and initial priorities

The forum’s remit, in particular its focus on developing supply chain capability and encouraging the expansion of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) across the industry.

Terence Watson said:

It’s a real privilege to be invited to chair the new forum, just as we’re on the cusp of a new golden age for Britain’s railways.

With programmes like Crossrail, HS2 and regional schemes opening up, it’s clear that there are incredible opportunities to be grasped by the UK supply chain. I’m determined to help industry and government develop its strategic capability and also to develop our many rail SMEs to ensure that they can win more work both here and abroad.

The aim of the forum is to deliver significant benefits including:

  • providing the government with a better understanding of the capability of UK suppliers to inform our rail investment plans and identify where support or intervention is required
  • building the capability of UK suppliers so that they are more likely to win work both here and abroad
  • reducing the risk of UK suppliers facing “feast and famine” in their order books and providing early warning of potential problems to the industry
  • improving how government and industry promote UK capability overseas

Ultimately, a more innovative and capable UK supply chain that has a clearer understanding of government policies and investment plans should result in lower industry costs and a better, more reliable railway.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has invested £4 million in the Hitachi factory under the Grant for Business Investment scheme. One hundred and fifty jobs will be created during the construction phase of the facility and when the factory is in full production, 730 people will be directly employed by Hitachi Rail Europe. It will also provide opportunities for many more in the local and national supply chains.

Among the UK based firms benefitting from the IEP is Nomad Digital, a Newcastle-based firm specialising in onboard servers. Andrew Taylor, CEO, Nomad Digital said:

As the world’s leading wireless technology provider for rail transport, Nomad is delighted to be chosen as the system supplier to Hitachi Rail Europe and proud to be extending its working relationship with Hitachi Rail.

The introduction of the new Hitachi trains in the UK is a significant step forward in the quality and reliability of UK trains and Nomad are pleased to provide state of the art communication systems and hence major improvements in the passenger experience.

The Intercity Express Programme is a great example of the new bringing together of railway and new communications technologies, and Nomad is glad to be playing a part in such a forward-thinking enterprise – rich in benefits for rail and infrastructure providers as well as the passengers.

Wiltshire based Knorr-Bremse employs some 700 skilled people at its four facilities in the United Kingdom and is designing and building the full braking system for the exciting Hitachi trains.

A spokesman for Knorr-Bremse said:

This major project helps to secure jobs at Knorr-Bremse but also to secure vital engineering skills and expertise in the UK rail industry.

The commitment by Hitachi Rail Europe to invest in and build trains in the United Kingdom, provides a great boost to the rail industry. Knorr-BremseUK looks forward to continuing to work together with Hitachi Rail Europe for many years into the future.

The total value of the IEP contract will be £5.8 billion over 27.5 years. This includes the manufacture and delivery of the trains, new maintenance depots and infrastructure upgrades. The contract is also for the ongoing maintenance and servicing of the fleet.

The eventual destinations served will depend on how the train operators choose to use the services. Once operational they will be able to reduce journey times to many of our major cities.

Great Western

  Typical journey time today from / to London Paddington IEP Journey time from / to London Paddington Time saving
Reading 25 23 2
Oxford 58 53 5
Worcester Shrub Hill 139 120 19
Cheltenham Spa 135 112 23
Bristol Parkway 81 71 10
Bath Spa 87 79 8
Bristol Temple Meads 105 83 22
Cardiff 121 104 17
Swansea 178 159 19

East Coast

  Typical journey time today from / to London Kings Cross IEP Journey time from / to London Kings Cross Time saving
Peterborough 45 43 2
Doncaster 96 92 4
Leeds 132 126 6
York 113 104 9
Newcastle 172 155 17
Edinburgh 263 245 18

Passengers will see improvements to their travelling experience, including:

  • more reliable services – up to 5 times more
  • a greater chance of getting a seat and reduced crowding
  • increased leg space without compromising on luggage provision
  • improved telecommunications connectivity

The total order stands at 866 vehicles across 122 electric and bi-mode trains, which can continue under their own power beyond the limit of electrification. Train capacity will be 627 seats per 9-car train and 313 seats per 5-car train, with the 9-car trains having 18% more seats than the Class 225 trains they are replacing. This means that the programme as a whole will increase the number of seats in the morning peak in to Kings Cross by 28% and 40% in to Paddington.

The IEP trains will replace the existing fleets and represents an investment worth in the region of £5.8 billion, comprising rolling stock, depot and infrastructure upgrades, and a full maintenance and cleaning programme. The costs are being borne by Agility Trains (the SPV comprising Hitachi Rail Europe and John Laing) whose income will come direct from the TOCs.

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Published 1 November 2013