Hitachi tipped to win revamped high speed train deal

THE government is tipped to confirm Japanese train manufacturer Hitachi this week as the winner of a slimmed-down deal to replace the UK’s ageing Intercity 125 high-speed trains.

It is thought ministers have re-jigged an existing agreement with Hitachi’s consortium Agility Trains to make the £7.5bn trains it offered for the UK’s Intercity Express (IEP) scheme cheaper and simpler to run.

Agility is already the preferred bidder on the deal, which will replace 40-year-old diesel trains on lines from London to Edinburgh and to Wales.

But the previous Labour government reviewed the IEP project amid cost concerns and proposed changes.

Ministers originally asked manufacturers to propose three types of train powered by electricity, diesel and a mix of both, allowing them to run on electrified and un-electrified lines.

Under the revised scheme, Hitachi is thought to have offered a modified version of its original train, with some diesel-powered carriages and others using power from overhead lines.

If Hitachi and Agility are confirmed as winners, it would be bad news for the UK’s last train builder Bombardier, which has 3,000 staff in Derby.

The Canadian group bid for the contract with German firm Siemens and is understood to be the reserve bidder.

The Department for Transport said it plans a rail announcement on Thursday, but declined to give details.

A rail industry source said: “The supposition is it will be something on the proposed replacement for the high speed train and the suspicion is that it may involve Hitachi.”