Hitachi Rail Group (Hitachi) today celebrates the first anniversary of its state-of-the-art Ashford Train Maintenance Depot, which was opened 12 months ago by Ruth Kelly, the Secretary of State for Transport. Over the past year the depot has attracted over 3,500 visitors from the UK, Europe and Japan’s rail industry and has created 47 jobs for local employees.
The Ashford depot will be the home of the Class 395, the new high speed Hitachi trains. Operating on the Channel Tunnel Rail Link (CTRL) between Kent and London St Pancras, the new Hitachi trains will cut current journey times by as much as one hour when passenger services begin in December 2009.
The 12-month milestone marks a very successful year for the Ashford depot and a programme of testing and maintenance is well underway for four Class 395 units. A total of 31,000 miles of testing has been completed to date on a combination of CTRL and domestic rail track.
In addition to the high speed trains, Hitachi also won the traction replacement for the Class 465. This project is going ahead as planned.The prototype unit is currently undergoing testing, with full production scheduled to start in early 2009.
The depot was awarded ISO 9001 accreditation in May this year and has an exemplary safety track record, with 41,500 work hours completed without any lost time or accidents.
Alistair Dormer, General Manager at Hitachi Rail Group London, said: “In addition to looking after the Class 395s, our Ashford depot has also been servicing Class 375 and 465 for Southeastern for the past 12 months. We are proud of our achievements to date, with only one two-minute delay during this time that can be attributed to Hitachi.
Investment into our workforce is a key issue for Hitachi Rail Group. Our team leaders get the opportunity to visit our factory and gain first hand knowledge of the trains by working on the production line.
Our apprentice scheme is another example of our investment into developing a skilled workforce for the future. In July 2007, two apprentices were employed in Ashford. After completing the first year of the Network Rail Maintenance Apprentice course, they have now returned to the Hitachi depot to complete their studies. We decided to extend the scheme, and in July this year, two further apprentices were employed.
“Hitachi Rail Group is committed to the UK rail market and our state-of-art facility in Ashford represents a first step for us. Our intention is clear, we are here to grow our rail business in the UK.”
In addition to pushing ahead with plans for the new high speed trains, Hitachi’s Ashford depot has also been involved in several local community initiatives. A number of local schools have benefited from work experience opportunities, and the depot has also supported local charities, such as Demelza House, a local children’s hospice.
About Hitachi Rail Europe Ltd.
Hitachi Rail Europe Ltd., is a wholly owned subsidiary of Hitachi Europe, Ltd. and is headquartered in London, UK.
Hitachi Rail Europe is a total railway system supplier offering rolling stock, traction equipment, signalling, traffic management systems, and maintenance depots.
Hitachi draws on many years of experience as a leading supplier of high-speed trains such as the Shinkansen (bullet train) for the Japanese and international markets. In Europe, Hitachi Rail Europe’s first rolling stock contract was to deliver a fleet of 29 Class 395 trains, the first domestic high-speed train in the UK, which are maintained at Hitachi’s state of the art depot in Ashford, Kent. As part of the British Department for Transport’s Intercity Express Programme, Hitachi Rail Europe will replace the UK’s ageing fleet of Intercity trains, and will establish a new rolling stock manufacturing facility in the UK for this purpose. The trains will be maintained and services in a number of new maintenance
depots along the Great Western Main Line and the East Coast Main Line.
For more information about the company, please visit: www.Hitachirail-eu.com .