Trains on a ship
A contract to build cutting-edge HS2 trains ‘could be on its way to England’s north east’ (reported Consett Magazine in November 2016).
[‘North East Could Land £7.5 Billion High-Speed Train Contract’, David Sunderland, Consett Magazine, November 19, 2016]
The government has implied that it will try to make sure the trains are built in Britain. Chris Grayling, the transport secretary, said, “We will not simply bring trains in on a ship with no benefit for engineering skills or apprenticeships in this country. I want a genuine process that leaves behind a skills footprint.”
If the trains really are to be manufactured in the UK, it would be great news for the north east. The region has a high-tech train factory in Newton Aycliffe, owned by the Japanese company Hitachi.
The factory is already making Intercity Express Programme trains. These trains will start replacing existing stock on the Great Western Main Line at the end of 2017 and on the East Coast Main Line from 2018.
But surely “bringing in trains on a ship with no benefit for engineering skills” is pretty much how GB train procurement has been carried out for many years. For example, as should be clear from the Asahi Shimbun article below, the Class 800 IEP trains for the Great Western and East Coast lines are manufactured in Japan, not at the Hitachi ‘potemkin factory’ in Newton Aycliffe.