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 | , , , , | 21 Comments

Riding The Frecciarossa

After I left Aosta, I took a train to Turin Porta Nuova station.

The journey involved a change of trains at Ivrea station and then a reverse at Chivasso station.

Reverses, where a train stops in a station and the driver changes ends, to drive it out, are surely one of the most inefficient parts of passenger train operation.

Surely, automation could do better.

From Turin Porta Nuova station, I took one of Italy’s high-speed trains; a Frecciarossa to Milan. Centrale station.

Some of my observations.

The Route

Note that for a lot of the route, the Turin-Milan High Speed Railway runs alongside the Milan-Turin Autostrada (A4).

I wonder why HS2 is not being built alongside the M1 between London and Birmingham, with possibly a stop at Milton Keynes.

After all, HS1 follows the M2 and M20 in Kent.

Multi-Class Seating

I saw one train with four classes; Standard, Premium, Business and Executive.

Do Italians, really need that many classes?


I bought the ticket from a machine, which also sells the tickets for the slower classic route trains.

As you pick a train, when you buy a ticket in Italy, so you can have reserved seats, you can choose a fast or slow train.

I hope HS2 is the same, so that if say you want to go from London to Birmingham or Manchester, you can choose your route.

There’s only one problem with Italian ticket machines. Often, when you start to buy a ticket, a beggar will appear and try to help or scam a few euros out of you. Some ticket machines are now in separate rooms off the concourse.

May 30, 2018 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | 1 Comment