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Eco-friendly trains to be manufactured in UK

Ann Elise Taylor
26th May 2011
Britain’s first train manufacturing plant to be built in decades will assemble high-speed trains that will better the sustainability and eco-friendliness of rolling stock in the UK, the company behind the facility said today.
A £4.5 billion Government project, Hitachi Rail Europe’s Intercity Express Programme (IEP) will build fully electric and 'bi-mode’ trains, which can switch from electric to diesel power. The new Super Express trains will replace old Intercity 125 model trains, which run on diesel. They will be assembled at a new 460,000 square foot plant in Durham County.

"One of the things that our trains will do is they will use less energy per feet than existing trains, because they’re lighter," said Hitachi Europe spokeswoman Daniela Karthaus. "We will also have more capacity on the trains, so more passengers can travel on them, so that is going to be an environmental benefit."

Karthaus said the lighter trains will lessen the amount of material used in repairs as well.

"They will do very little damage to the tracks because they are lighter, which in turn means less replacement of tracks, which makes them hopefully more sustainable," she said.

Representatives from Durham County Council, County Durham Development Company, Merchant Place Developments, Agility Trains and Hitachi Rail Europe spoke publicly about the IEP today for the first time since the Government approved the project in March. More than 1,800 guests attended the event, which informed attendees about the business opportunities available during the construction of the new factory.

Design stage
The Hitachi Super Express trains, which will be used on the East Coast, Main Line and the London-South Wales Great Western Main Line, are currently in the conceptual design phase of their development, Karthaus said. The company currently plans on building them to be lighter than the Intercity 125 trains.

As Hitachi is still determining which model of engine to use for the new trains, the company was unable to comment on the trains’ carbon emissions.

"We’re speaking to several potential suppliers, and we are testing the different engines for our trains to see which fits best with the specifications of the trains and which one is the most environmentally friendly for our purposes," Karthaus said. "We’re still at a stage where we haven’t firmed up a deal with one [engine supplier] yet."

Electric future
Karthaus said the company’s decision to construct both fully electric and bi-mode trains was based on the lines that they will be running not being fully electric. However, Karthaus said the trains will be able to adapt to a fully electric future.

"If the Government decides to electrify even more of the lines, we think our bi-mode trains are very good for this," Karthaus said. "The train is already electric and can be used simply as an electric train without the diesel component."

Construction at the plant will start next year. Production of the Super Express Trains will begin in 2015, with the first trains delivered in 2016. The project will employ workers in the area and today’s event was held in the hope of attracting potential suppliers for the factory’s development.

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Eco-friendly trains to be manufactured in UK
Hitachi's Super Express trains will be fully electric and ‘bi-mode’ trains, which can switch from electric to diesel power
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