February 12, 2009

Britain awards $10.6B train contract

Britain said it awarded a $10.6 billion train upgrade contract to a Japanese consortium, the new trains to replace 30-year-old trains on two busy lines.

Agility Trains, a consortium that includes Hitachi, makers of bullet trains, won the bid for the contract to build new trains for the Great Western and East Coast train lines.

However, Transportation Secretary Geoff Hoon said the government spending will create or save 12,500 jobs in Britain, The Times of London reported Thursday

The trains will be largely manufactured in Japan, then shipped for assembly in Britain, where Agility Trains plans to build a new train manufacturing plant. The project also includes upgrades for train depots and construction of several new stations.

It is good news for the British economy that over 12,500 jobs will be created and safeguarded, good news for the regions that the Government is supporting significant inward investment, and good news for passengers that we are taking the steps necessary to improve their rail journeys, Hoon said.

Britain's sole train maker Bombardier was part of a losing bid submitted by the Express Rail Alliance, The Times said.