Hitachi eyes up France's TGV

JAPANESE train manufacturer Hitachi is expected to bid against the French-built TGV in its home country for a rolling stock contract in a move that would target the world&rsquo;s biggest rail market.<br /><br />The Tokyo-based manufacturer of the 186 mph (300 kph) Bullet Train is expected to offer the latest Shinkansen-series model in a bid to acquire a contract from French rail operator, Societe Nationale des Chemins de Fer Francais (SNCF). <br /><br />Hitachi, whose European sales of high-speed trains have been limited to the UK, is expected to bid against Paris-based train manufacturer Alstom.<br /><br />SNCF&rsquo;s concerns regarding the cost of the new rolling stock, coupled with expectations that the company will move to issue a tender for a new generation of high-speed trains as early as next year, have increased the likelihood that the rail operator will invite contract bids in 2010. <br /><br />Hitachi, however, is expected to face challenges as it attempts to enter a European market that features a variety of railway systems and requirements for cross-border operations.<br /><br />The Japanese company is also expected to compete for entry into the German rolling stock market, when tenders are being issued to replace older versions of the ICE high-speed train, manufactured by Siemens, the world&rsquo;s largest engineering conglomerate.<br /><br />On 13 December, Hitachi will celebrate the launch of its first high speed passenger journey in the UK when rail operator Southeastern introduces full passenger services on Hitachi&rsquo;s Class 395 trains. The trains will slash journey times between Ebsfleet and London.