It doesn’t seem adequate to say Hitachi has had a good 18 months. Lucrative? Yes. Defining? Definitely.
In September, the company opened its much-vaunted manufacturing facility in Newton Aycliffe; this was swiftly followed by additional train orders from Great Western – part of which was confirmed this month – Abellio ScotRail and TransPennine Express.
The first Class 800 – the difficult second album to follow the success of the Class 395 ‘Javelin’ fleet – celebrated its own milestone recently, successfully completing its first test runs on a newly electrified section of the Great Western Main Line (GWML).
The past 12 months has also seen Hitachi complete its acquisition of AnsaldoBreda – now Hitachi Rail Italy – alongside a 50 per cent share in Ansaldo STS, giving it a manufacturing base in Italy to support its operations in the UK and Europe. Its rise over the past couple of years has been remarkable, with the company now established as one of the leading rolling stock suppliers in the UK.
Last year, Hitachi’s Ashford maintenance centre crew won the Depot Team of the Year Award. The depot’s fleet manager, Nigel King, praised the site’s 100-or-so staff for its success. Ashford looks after Southeastern’s Class 395 ‘Javelin’ fleet and, as we move closer to the roll-out of the Class 800 on Great Western, it is being held up as an example of good practice for the IEP maintenance teams.
This year, Hitachi is supporting the awards, sponsoring the popular Train Driver of the Year category. Given the volume of new trains coming out of Hitachi’s factories over the next few years, the company is looking to recognise those who will be operating them. It’s a category which recognises drivers on routes all around the country. People like London Underground’s Frank Hoffman (pictured below), who won the 2015 award after he came to the aid of a passenger who had collapsed on his train.
Says Kendra Ayling, brand and marketing specialist at Hitachi Rail Europe, ’As we ramp-up for delivery of the Intercity Express Programme trains across the UK we are opening new maintenance centres to support the contract including Doncaster, Stoke Gifford and North Pole.
‘We have exciting plans to recruit and retain the best talent for these sites and we see the RailStaff Awards as a big part of this strategy – which is why we have decided to sponsor this year. It’s a great way to reward our teams for the excellent work they do each day to get our trains into service in pristine condition, and we are looking forward to what looks like an amazing night.’