Engineering news

Hitachi and Alstom to design and build HS2 trains in the UK

Professional Engineering

An artist's impression of how the HS2 train could look (Credit: HS2 Ltd)
An artist's impression of how the HS2 train could look (Credit: HS2 Ltd)

A long wait for news ended today (9 December), as the government announced that a joint venture between Hitachi and Alstom will design and build rolling stock for HS2.

The high-speed trains will be entirely built in the North East and Midlands, at factories in Derby, Crewe and County Durham.  

The £2bn contracts for the design, build and maintenance of 54 trains will support 2,500 jobs across the UK, the government said.  

Capable of speeds up to 225mph (360km/h), the trains will reportedly be the fastest and lowest carbon per passenger-kilometre trains of their kind in the UK.  

The fully electric trains will also run on the existing network to places such as Glasgow, Liverpool, Manchester and elsewhere in the North West.  

The first stages of the build, including vehicle body assembly and initial fit-out, will be done at Hitachi Rail’s facility at Newton Aycliffe, County Durham. The second stage of fit-out and testing will be done at Alstom’s Litchurch Lane factory in Derby. 

All the bogies, which house the wheelsets, will be assembled and maintained at Alstom’s Crewe facility – the first time since 2004 that both jobs have been done in the UK. 

The first train is expected to roll off the production line around 2027, with first passengers expected between 2029 and 2033. 

Each train will be about 200m long, with the option to couple two units together to create a 400m long train with up to 1,100 seats. 

The train will feature Hitachi Rail’s low noise pantograph, developed for the bullet train in Japan. The technology, which collects power from the overhead wires, will make it quieter that comparable high-speed trains. Regenerative braking will also boost energy efficiency. 

HS2 Ltd said the trains will be 15% lighter and offer 30% more seats than comparable high-speed trains in Europe, such as the Italian ETR1000 built by Hitachi Rail and Alstom. 

“Today is a massive day for HS2,” said HS2 Ltd chief executive Mark Thurston. "The trains that will be built in Derby, Newton Aycliffe and Crewe will transform rail travel, offering passengers unparalleled levels of reliability, speed and comfort, and help in the fight to remove carbon from our transport system.” 

Hitachi Rail recently completed a £8.5m investment in new welding and painting facilities at Newton Aycliffe, where the 432 HS2 bodyshells will be manufactured. 

Designed to be fully accessible, the interior layout will be decided following a two-and-a-half-year collaborative design process involving HS2 Ltd, the Department for Transport and the West Coast Partnership, the operator of the trains when they first come into service. 

The fleet will be maintained at a new depot being built by HS2 Ltd at Washwood Heath on the outskirts of Birmingham, creating jobs and additional apprenticeship opportunities. 

Today's announcement follows the axing of a planned HS2 line between the East Midlands and Leeds last month, described as a ‘blow to a low-carbon post-pandemic recovery’ by one rail expert. Extra capacity from the high-speed leg would have eased pressure on existing lines and enabled a shift from road to rail, said Rail Engineer editor David Shirres to Professional Engineering.   

Want the best engineering stories delivered straight to your inbox? The Professional Engineering newsletter gives you vital updates on the most cutting-edge engineering and exciting new job opportunities. To sign up, click here.

Content published by Professional Engineering does not necessarily represent the views of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.


Read more related articles

Professional Engineering magazine

Professional Engineering app

  • Industry features and content
  • Engineering and Institution news
  • News and features exclusive to app users

Download our Professional Engineering app

Professional Engineering newsletter

A weekly round-up of the most popular and topical stories featured on our website, so you won't miss anything

Subscribe to Professional Engineering newsletter

Opt into your industry sector newsletter

Related articles