Work has commenced on building the new fleet of electric and bi-mode trains that will replace Avanti West Coast’s diesel-powered Voyagers next year.
The next generation trains are being assembled by Hitachi at its Newton Aycliffe factory in County Durham and will serve customers along the West Coast Main Line including London, the Midlands, North Wales, Liverpool and Lancashire.
Assembly of the trains coincides with investment by AWC at its depots and the creation of a driver depot at Holyhead in North Wales, which will generate 20 jobs.
AWC is investing more than £5m in depot upgrades at Liverpool, Oxley and Wembley to support ongoing maintenance of the new Hitachi trains, with a further £300,000 invested in the Holyhead driver depot in Holyhead.
Work is also ongoing to refurbish AWC’s 56 electric Pendolino trains as part of a £642m, seven-year deal signed with Alstom last year.
The Hitachi fleet will comprise of 10 Class 807, seven-carriage electric trains and 13 Class 805, five-carriage bi-mode trains, the latter due to replace the current diesel Voyager trains and deliver a 61% reduction in carbon emissions.
The work has helped Hitachi invest £8.5m in welding and painting facilities at its factory and secured around 40 high-skilled roles, including newly graduated welders and painters who will be completing the high-tech aluminium carriage shells.
Phil Whittingham, Managing Director at Avanti West Coast said: “We’re proud to be partnering with Hitachi Rail, and its UK supply chain, to build a fleet of new trains that will transform the travelling experience for our customers on the West Coast Main Line. The investment is a key part of our exciting plans to raise the bar for the UK rail industry and will deliver a significant reduction in carbon emissions.”
Jim Brewin, Head of UK & Ireland, Hitachi Rail, said: “The £110 million we have now invested at Newton Aycliffe is not only a sign of our continued commitment to the North East of England but also British manufacturing and its supply chain.
“At the heart of our commitment is the continued development of a highly skilled and dynamic workforce and 70 apprenticeships will drive the rail industry forward at home and abroad for many years to come.”