Green light given to Hitachi for £4.5bn train fleet order

THE GREEN light has been given for a fleet of new high-speed trains to be built to serve routes to London.

The government yesterday said it would press ahead with plans to replace Britain’s ageing InterCity fleet with trains built by Japanese conglomerate Hitachi. It has placed a £4.5bn order for 500 carriages with the firm, which is leading a consortium of manufacturers known as Agility Trains.

The order forms part of the government’s delayed Intercity Express Programme to replace diesel powered trains dating back to the 1970s and 80s. There had been fears the scheme would be scrapped after it was repeatedly put on hold last year.

The first of the 100 new electric and “bi-mode” trains – vehicles capable of running on either diesel or power from overhead lines – will be rolled out from 2016.

Transport secretary Philip Hammond also announced a £704m plan to extend the electrification of the Great Western Main Line from Didcot to Cardiff.