Hitachi to Move Rail HQ to UK
Hitachi, the Japanese multinational engineering and electronics company behind the high speed Javelin trains that run through Kent to London St Pancras, is going to make London the new headquarters of its global rail business.
The company is planning to expand its business throughout the UK and across the rest of Europe, in a preemptive bid for HS2 contracts, which is the high-speed railway that is currently being constructed all over England. The move also represents a shift from Japan to a more international focus for Hitachi.
Last year, Hitachi won a £1.2 billion deal to open a factory in Newton Aycliffe, which is a town in County Durham, in the North East of England. The factory is currently under construction, expected to open next year, and is where Hitachi’s train will be built, initially employing around 750 people. Maintenance depots will also be opened by the company around the country.
“It would be a great idea to build high speed trains in the northeast,” said Alistair Dormer who will be Hitachi’s global operations lead. “We’ve been working with HS2 for a couple of years now, advising them on the key interfaces between the train systems and what the infrastructure systems should be.”
Dormer explained that Hitachi view the whole operation as a major one, hoping that the UK will become the hub for the rest of Europe, stating that the company has both the means and ability to meet the growing global railway market demands. “We will continue to deliver excellent service to our customers base whilst seeking new markets and opportunities for expansion,” he added.
The UK is currently Hitachi’s third biggest rail market by revenue, after Japan and Taiwan, but with the coming expansion, it is thought that the UK will bump itself up to second place. Hitachi has already secured its place in the UK with the aforementioned Javelin trains, but also with the 2012 £700 million deal to build new nuclear power plants.
“We will vigorously push ahead with global business developed in the rail systems business, where growth is expected,” said Kantaro Masai, who from 1 April will become Hitachi’s Rail Systems Company’s President and CEO. He said that the method for doing so will involve utilising the company’s “advanced rail systems technology” and strengthening HItachi’s overseas networks. “I am committed to growing Hitachi’s rail systems business into a globally competitive enterprise,” he said.
The move has been described by Transport Secretary Patrick Loughlin as “an incredible vote of confidence” that the UK’s economy and business are once again growing. The fact that such a huge, multinational company is choosing to set up camp in Britain, with the hope of exporting out to the rest of Europe, “is just the sort of growth we want to see more of as we invest in rail and build HS2”.