HSRIL held a focus group with business representatives and local politicians in Ashford to discuss the benefits that high speed rail can bring to the local supply chain, and the local economy. Hosted by Hitachi Rail Europe at their flagship Ashford Train Maintenance Centre, the session used HS1 as a case study to focus the discussions around what more the industry can do to engage local businesses in the supply chain when bringing forward major infrastructure projects.

Nick Hughes, Sales Director, Hitachi Rail Europe said: “It has been a pleasure to host today’s important industry event, highlighting the positive impact that new high speed trains and infrastructure will have on the UK. The UK supply chain, including numerous SMEs, and passengers will benefit from the delivery of a new high speed network, providing improved connectivity to many towns and cities across the country.  At Hitachi Rail’s flagship Ashford Train Maintenance Centre, we have drawn on our experiences of working collaboratively with a number of different stakeholders, supplying and maintaining the Class 395 ‘Javelin’ fleet, of London 2012 fame, for the UK’s first high speed network, HS1.  Hitachi Rail is also proud to have celebrated 50 years of building Japanese bullet trains, which we believe underpins our extensive international high speed track record and pedigree. Our message to the UK supply chain and government is very clear: UK industry is ready to deliver high speed connectivity for the UK.”

Head of Category Management Alec Doran outlined how HS1 has injected economic growth into the Ashford region, noting Hitachi’s contribution specifically with 70% of their supplier base and 60% of their employees coming from the local area.

Chris Fawdry, Managing Director of Lucchini UK attended the event: “As a supplier in the rolling stock supply chain, I have felt that HS2 was very remote from my everyday business life. However, attending the event I realise how fast the project is developing, with contracts to be awarded very shortly for some of the civil works. Should we be successful to supply to the eventual train manufacturer, HS2 will bring new jobs to my company and give security to many others already employed. Thus the benefits to the North West of England will stem initially from real jobs followed by real benefits in terms of journey time savings and much-needed network capacity”.

David Brookes, Divisional Manager After Sales at Dellner Ltd said: “we have got some positive stories that need to get across, not only to people in general but also to people within the railway community”.

Following the focus group, participants enjoyed an exclusive tour of the Class 395 ‘Javelin’ series, which is operated by Southeastern and maintained by Hitachi Rail Europe in Ashford. The Javelins have been operating since 2009 and represent Hitachi Rail Europe’s entry-point to the UK market and are known for their reliability and high quality of service.The trains were particularly recognised for the efficient transportation of sporting fans during the London 2012 Olympics.