The UK government has finally signed an agreement with Hitachi to fund production of high-speed trains for the East Coast rail line

Deal for domestic high-speed train production signed

The UK government has signed a £2.7bn deal commissioning Hitachi to build 497 carriages for the East Coast high-speed rail line in a plant in Durham.

The contract will enable creating 730 jobs in the purpose-built factory in Newton Aycliffe, where Hitachi will be assembling the Class 800 trains, foreseen to start running on the East Coast line in 2018.

Hitachi is also building 369 carriages to run on the Great Western line from 2017 under a funding agreement reached in 2012.

Today's announcement finally paves the way for the long-running Intercity Express Programme (IEP) saga to reach a conclusion. It was as far back as February 2009 that the Labour government announced that Hitachi-led consortium Agility Trains was the preferred bidder for the IEP.

But a series of difficulties meant that the final contract-award decision was delayed for some time.

The contract to deliver the carriages has been agreed with Agility Trains, a consortium of Hitachi Rail Europe and John Laing.

As well as building the new manufacturing facility at Newton Aycliffe, Hitachi will construct maintenance depots at sites including Bristol and Doncaster, and is refurbishing and upgrading depots across the Great Western and East Coast lines.

Hitachi recently announced its plans to move its global rail headquarters to the UK, further underlining the confidence in the UK economy and rail market

On the East Coast line the new trains will provide significant benefits to passengers, with 19 per cent more seats on each train, reduced journey times between London, Leeds, Newcastle and Edinburgh by up to 15 minutes, and improved reliability.

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