The Intercity Express trains being built by Hitachi will be a a combination of fully electric and bi-mode trains

Forum to boost UK train-building industry

A forum to strengthen Britain's train-building industry has been announced by ministers during a visit to County Durham.

Business Secretary Vince Cable introduced the Rail Industry Supply Chain Forum, which will try, among other things, to reduce the risk of UK suppliers facing "feast and famine" in their order books.

The forum is also designed to provide the Government with a better understanding of the capability of UK suppliers, which will help decisions on rail investment plans and identify where support or intervention is required.

The forum was announced by McLoughlin and Cable while visiting the site of Hitachi's new £82m manufacturing facility at Newton Aycliffe, where the new Intercity Express trains are being built.

The trains are a combination of fully electric and bi-mode trains, which have both diesel and electric propulsion, and can travel at up to 125mph in various formations from five to ten cars. The first trains will start operating to Wales and south west England by 2017 and along the east coast a year later.

McLoughlin said: "The Intercity Express Programme is part of the Government's commitment to investing in our nation's infrastructure. Once they are on the network they will slash journey times, boost capacity to many of our cities in the south west and up the east coast to Scotland."

Cable said: "Hitachi's decision to base its European factory in Newton Aycliffe shows the UK is an attractive place for international businesses to invest and grow. It also underlines the industrial benefits of the rail revolutions now taking place in the UK.

“As well as attracting inward investment, we also need to develop a strong, co-ordinated and competitive supply chain here which complements and supports other industry initiatives.

"The creation of the Rail Supply Chain Forum will ensure we are working in partnership with industry in line with our industrial strategy, so British businesses are better able to win work both here and abroad."

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