The Anonymous Widower

HS2 Ltd Awards Landmark Rolling Stock Contracts To Hitachi-Alstom Joint Venture

The title of this post, is the same as that of this press release from High Speed Two.

The press release gives two major bullet points.

  • Major boost for UK train-building as HS2’s state-of-the-art fleet of 225mph (360km/h) high speed trains will be built by Alstom and Hitachi Rail at their factories in County Durham, Derby and Crewe
  • Landmark contract set to support 2,500 jobs across the UK and boost the economy by over £157m each year

The press release then gives a link to this video clip.

The video doesn’t appear to show much.

These are my thoughts.

The Train Specification

This document on the Government web site is the Train Technical Specification for High Speed Two Classic-Compatible Trains.

The Bare Bones Of The Contract

These three paragraphs in the press release outline the contract.

HS2 Ltd today confirmed that a Hitachi/Alstom JV has been awarded the contracts to build Britain’s next generation of high speed trains at their factories in Derby and County Durham in a major deal set to support 2,500 jobs across the UK.

The landmark contracts – worth around £2bn – will see the JV design, build and maintain a fleet of 54 state-of-the-art high speed trains that will operate on HS2 – the new high-speed railway being built between London, the West Midlands and Crewe.

Capable of speeds of up to 225mph (360km/h), the fully electric trains will also run on the existing network to places such as Glasgow, Liverpool, Manchester and the North West. Building on the latest technology from the Japanese Shinkansen ‘bullet train’ and European high-speed network, they will be some of the fastest, quietest and most energy efficient high-speed trains operating anywhere in the world.

The third paragraph is probably the most significant, with the last few words standing out.

They will be some of the fastest, quietest and most energy efficient high-speed trains operating anywhere in the world.

That is a high bar and let’s hope the joint venture achieves it.

The Fastest Trains?

In Wikipedia’s section on High Speed Rail, this is said.

China has the fastest conventional high-speed rail in regular operation, with the Beijing–Shanghai high-speed railway reaching up to 350 km/h (217 mph).

It may not be the fastest, when it opens, but the Hitachi/Alstom JV train will certainly put the wind up the Chinese.

The Quietest Trains?

In Class 345 Trains Really Are Quiet!, which I wrote in May 2017, I said this.

This morning I was sitting waiting on Platform 8 at Stratford station.

Platform 8 is separated from Platform 9 by just two tracks, so you notice a train, when it goes through Platform 9 at speed.

Usually, the trains that go through Platform 9 at speed towards Liverpool Street station are Class 321 trains or rakes of Mark 3 coaches oulled by a Class 90 locomotives.

Today, a new Class 345 train went through and the level of noise was extremely low compared to other trains.

Bombardier have applied world class aviation aerodynamics to these trains. Particularly in the areas of body shape, door design, car-to-car interfaces, bogies and pantographs.

Remember too, that low noise means less wasted energy and greater energy efficiency.

I have since confirmed the quietness of Aventras many times.

I know the Aventra is only a suburban trundler, but have the JV applied all the knowledge that makes an Aventra such a quiet train to their new high speed train.

One of the best ways to cut noise on a vehicle or train, is to make sure all the components are as quiet as possible.

On a train, a surprising amount of high-frequency noise comes from the pantograph.

This article from Rail Technology Magazine is entitled HS2 Ltd Awards Hitachi-Alstom JV Landmark Rolling Stock Contracts. This is said about the pantograph.

The new trains will utilise a pioneering low noise pantograph, the arm which collects power from the overhead wires developed by Hitachi Rail. The technology was first developed in Japan and will make the new HS2 trains quieter than comparable high speed trains.

There’s nothing wrong with that logic.

The Most Energy Efficient Trains?

There are several clues to the energy efficiency of these trains.

The Rail Technology Magazine article also says this.

Regenerative braking to boost energy efficiency.

Nothing is said about whether the energy is returned to the track in any of the articles on the train.

But in the specification for the train, in Section 7.3 Braking, this is said.

The Unit shall be capable of achieving this deceleration for any payload up to Normal
Payload (HDL) without regenerating to the 25kV power supply.

So what does the train do with the energy?

It must be stored on the train and reused to accelerate the train or provide hotel power, which means the train must have integrated battery storage.

This would contribute to the train’s energy efficiency.

Other factors, that would contribute are a lighter weight and good aerodynamics.




Relationship To The Zefiro 300

The Zefiro 300 is a high speed train, that was built by a consortium of Bombardier and Hitachi Rail in Italy.

This is said in the Wikipedia entry for the Zefiro 300.

An evolution of the Italian version of the Zefiro 300 was also offered by Bombardier (joined with Hitachi Rail) for High Speed 2 commercial tender.


  1. The Zefiro 300 uses FLEXX Eco bogies.
  2. The Zefiro 300 is a 300 kph train.
  3. The Zefiro 300  is called a Frecciarossa 1000 in Italy.

There is also a Zefiro 380 in China, which is a 380 kph train.

I’ve ridden one of these trains and describe it in Riding The Frecciarossa.

I think the High Speed Two trains will have level boarding.


The bogies are one of the most important parts of the train. Like the Zefiro 300, will the train have FLEXX Eco bogies?

This article on Global Railway Review is entitled FLEXX Eco: The Leading Lightweight Passenger Bogie Design and it gives details on the bogie and its history.

Some of the concepts were developed at British Rail Research and some were applied to the bogies of the legendary British Rail Mark 3 and Mark 4 coaches, which ride better than some of today’s trains.

The Rail Technology Magazine article says this about the bogies.

Further supporting the UK rail supply chain, all of the bogies for the new trains will be assembled and maintained at Alstom’s facility in Crewe – which is the first time since 2004 that both jobs have been done in the UK.

It sounds sensible to have one factory to assemble and maintain the bogies.

Will this factory also supply the bogies for Aventras, which are also FLEXX Eco?


The press release says this about assembly.

  • The first stages including vehicle body assembly and initial fit-out will be done at Hitachi Rail’s facility at Newton Aycliffe, County Durham.
  • The second stage of fit out and testing will be done at Alstom’s Litchurch Lane factory in Derby.


I find it interesting, how improvements in one area help another.

The JV has worked hard to perfect this design.



December 9, 2021 - Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , ,


  1. that is of course what was originally a Hitachi/Bombardier bid

    Comment by Peter Robins | December 9, 2021 | Reply

    • Just finished scanning the 2020 European Commission Competition report regarding the considerations involved in allowing the merger of Bombardier into Alstom.
      While there’s nothing explicit about a continued commitment to support Hitachi for the HS2 contract, there is an acknowledgement that as Clause 315 of that the report says, the HS2 bid is “an iteration of the V300 Zefiro”. I assume from the report that Alstom essentially retain the same scope of supply as for the Italian Frecciarossa and the latest order from Spain’s ISLA.

      Comment by fammorris | December 10, 2021 | Reply

      • Wikipedia says something similar. China also have a Zefiro 380, which will be 20 kph faster than HS2. Could this be a Colin Chapman design? It looks like they’ve searched their various parts bins and created a design. It worked for Chapman.

        Comment by AnonW | December 10, 2021

      • Alstom has in the last few days sold the V300 Zefiro platform to Hitachi. I assume that one of the reasons for this bid being chosen is the plants in Derby and now Crewe as well, in addition to Hitachi’s in Newton Aycliffe.

        Comment by Peter Robins | December 10, 2021

      • Not so much sold the Zefiro platform, but having been required to divest itself of future interest (save supporting the Italian and Spanish trains with maintenance and spares). As you know they required to give up other platforms and a factory to CAF)
        The Zefiro was originally the train on which Sifang (Qingdao) Transportation (BST) Chinese joint venture was based.

        Comment by fammorris | December 10, 2021

      • indeed. What i was meaning was that I think Hitachi is now the lead partner in this, and Alstom/Bombardier’s main contribution is the Bombardier plants. Alstom’s bid was for a different train.

        Comment by Peter Robins | December 10, 2021

      • Well if the order is based on the Zefiro, then while Hitachi may be lead contractor the component delivery is likely to follow precedent. I accept there may be some variation in scope of components and that’s why I’m compiling optional sources.
        For example Hitachi Rail Europe have latitude to procure as they wish. The traction Inverter on the Class 385 doesn’t come from a Hitachi Group company in Japan, but from the Czech Republic. At the moment I believe that supplier to be Skoda Transportation. Also the HS2 pantograph is a Hitachi product and is destined to come from Japan rather than the Schunk unit fitted on the Italian trains.
        It’s enlightening to discover probable UK supply sources, which thanks to foreign saviours are almost assured business.
        Whatever else you think, the new build contribution by value for this contract is going to be heavily biased to overseas sources.

        Comment by fammorris | December 10, 2021

  2. There are already some good surprises. I’ll finish this post later this evening. Just going out to take some photos.

    Comment by AnonW | December 9, 2021 | Reply

  3. A Press Release with remarkably little information.

    Comment by fammorris | December 10, 2021 | Reply

    • There is more if you read everything about the train, with the specification at hand.

      Comment by AnonW | December 10, 2021 | Reply

  4. the trains do have batteries for hotel power. They’re not intended for traction, but are supposed to be able to keep the hotel stuff going for a certain time in case of power outage. I remember reading that in the spec.

    Comment by Peter Robins | December 10, 2021 | Reply

    • I think we can take it as read that although the batteries are for hotel power they will be some form of Li-ion batteries. It makes me wonder though, who will be responsible for specifying and procuring them, after all Hitachi and Alston have there own supply chains.

      Comment by fammorris | December 10, 2021 | Reply

      • There are some good reputable suppliers and as this is a new design, it will probably be an open tender. But I wouldn’t be surprised that Hyperdrive Innovation are in a prime position, as they are a British manufacturer with rail experience.

        Comment by AnonW | December 10, 2021

    • Batteries are mentioned ten times in the spec and they will be charged by regenerative braking. They don’t say they are used for traction, but I suspect they will be used to power-up and power-down the train as in the Aventra. But there is five years before delivery and who knows what Hitachi’s trials with batteries might show up. For instance a 5 km capability might prove very useful in case of catenary failure, due to a severe storm.

      Comment by AnonW | December 10, 2021 | Reply

      • I’d be happy for the order for the batteries to go to Hyperdrive, but that rather depends on whether Hitachi order them rather than Alstom, or come to that the former Bombardier element of the company, who both have their contracted suppliers. For example, given that the train is likely to retain the Bombardier MITRAC traction system which is used on the joint venture Italian ETR1000, the batteries for that system are supplied by the Swiss firm Leclanché.
        I’ll bet the procurement and contract personnel in the two companies will have had some quite complicated discussions to assign responsibilities.
        As regards the purpose of the batteries, the Train Technical Specification implicitly states that their purpose is to provide the train’s auxiliary power. TTS-1426 and TTS-1639 refer only to regenerating to the “Batteries required for Auxiliary Power Supply”; i.e. “all elements that supply power to systems other than traction”

        Comment by fammorris | December 10, 2021

      • also, battery tech is likely to advance in 5 years – so I think it would be unwise to commit now to current tech.

        Comment by Peter Robins | December 10, 2021

  5. Sorry that this post is a bit of a mess, but WordPress doesn’t seem to put in all the Reply links.

    Comment by AnonW | December 10, 2021 | Reply

    • Out of order responses keeps the mind active 😃
      Now I know the basis for the train, I can identify all of the major suppliers. Do you realise the bodyshell components, as with the Frecciarossa trains, are likely to be Swedish. Saves all that shipping from Kobe Steel who supply for the Class 800 Series.

      Comment by fammorris | December 10, 2021 | Reply

      • I will also put this as a separate post.

        The Zefiro 300 and the Chinese version; the Zefiro 380 use FLEXX Eco bogies, as do Aventras.

        Could the bogie factory at Crewe also make the bogies for the Aventras? I seem to remember saying that FLEXX Eco bogies are made in Sweden.

        It would certainly make sense if you were Alstom to have the hundreds of bogies for UK built trains built in the same factory.

        Comment by AnonW | December 10, 2021

    • Looks like your setup only allows 3 levels. According to you can change this in the settings.

      Comment by Peter Robins | December 12, 2021 | Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: