Hitachi wins £1.2bn train carriage contract

Intercity Express Carriage
Image caption Carriages on the new intercity trains will have wider aisles

A £1.2bn deal to build new UK trains has been won by Hitachi Rail Europe.

The firm will build 270 carriages at a new factory in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, which will start production in 2016.

The carriages are part of the class 800 series and will go into operation on the East Coast Main Line from 2019.

Last year, the government agreed an initial order for 596 carriages with Agility Trains, a consortium of Hitachi and British firm John Laing.

In a statement, Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: "This new order for class 800 series trains is part of the government's commitment to invest in our nation's infrastructure".

Thursday's order is part of Britain's £5.8bn programme, launched in 2005, to replace the nation's ageing stock of trains.

In total the new fleet will comprise 122 complete train sets and will have more seats and wider aisles than older models.

The trains are capable of running at up to 140mph (225kmph), but to run at that speed lines and signals will need upgrading.

Hitachi Rail Europe's chief executive Alistair Dormer said: "This order extends firm orders at the (Newton Aycliffe) factory until the end of the decade with significant capacity remaining available for further UK and export contracts actively being pursued."

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