UK: Expert Says Bombardier Could Produce Trains for HSR Network

A rail expert has said he can see no reason why Derbytrain maker Bombardier should not be able to produce the trains for a new highspeed rail network.

This week, the Government gave final approval for the £32 billion project, which will create a Y-shaped network - running first from London to Birmingham before splitting, with one branch going to Manchester and another going through the East Midlands to Leeds.

Transport Secretary Justine Greening told the Derby Telegraph that the project was "good news" for train-makers like Bombardier, raising hopes that the Litchurch Lane firm could end up building the super-fast trains that will run on HS2, the first phase of which is expected to be completed by 2026.

The trains would run at speeds in excess of 250mph.

Rail expert Sim Harris, editor of Rail News, said he believed Bombardier's Derby plant would have the capability to produce the new trains. But he said it depended on whether the company still had a UK factory when the contract went out to tender.

The firm is reviewing its UK operations after missing out on the £1.4 billion Thameslink contract to German manufacturer Siemens. Bombardier is shedding 1,400 jobs at Litchurch Lane as a result of missing out on the deal.

But hopes have been raised that the plant will stay open after the company secured a £188 million deal to build 130 Electrostar carriages for Southern Railway.

The firm is hoping to hear soon whether it has won the £127 million eVoyager deal.

Mr Harris said HS2 could go out to tender in about 10 years. He said: "I believe the Government will insist on green trains. " This means trains that have lightweight aluminium bodies as opposed to steel.

"Litchurch Lane makes aluminium-bodies trains.

"There is also a lot of talk about the HS2 trains being double-deckers. The production lines at Litchurch Lane are big enough to build such trains." Mr Harris said Bombardier had experience of building super-fast trains at factories elsewhere in the world.

But Bombardier would expect to face competition from Siemens and French trainmaker Alstom.

Mr Harris said: "It would be great to see British-built trains running on HS2.

"Bombardier has to get a number of ducks in a row before we get to such a scenario." MP IN PLEA FOR £3M TO GET STATION PLANS ON TRACK SEE PAGE 18

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