Hitachi Rail will continue providing maintenance for Great Western Railway (GWR) and Eversholt Rail’s trains after an extension of their partnership that will “improve train service reliability.” 

GWR said that the contract, worth over £300m, was extended based on an increase of over 94% in fleet reliability since it was introduced with the Italy-based rail solutions provider. 

Jim Brewin, Hitachi Rail UK and Ireland chief director highlighted the success of his company’s tech saying it was 2.7 times more reliable than the industry average for 2022.

“As intercity travel continues to recover strongly following the pandemic, we are proud to enhance our maintenance services for GWR and Eversholt Rail,” Brewin added. “This includes the incorporation of industry-leading digital tools and expanding Hitachi’s presence at Plymouth’s Laira depot.” 

Over 500 highly skilled jobs, many of which are at the Laira depot in Plymouth which covers most of the maintenance for GWR’s Class 802s, will be maintained thanks to the contract extension and will also ensure “an annual UK supply chain investment of £70m.” 

The sustainability of investment into the UK’s rail supply chain was one of the issues pinpointed by the Railway Industry Association in its submission to the Chancellor ahead of the Spring Budget where it asked the government to “commit to investment pipeline certainty and transparency.” 

The incorporation of new digital tech includes solutions such as onboard digital monitoring which allows for live data on the conditions of train parts such as wheels, traction motors and gearboxes, allowing for some maintenance downtime to be reduced by 50%. 

Digitally optimised maintenance is something that GWR have been investing in since 2018 and was highlighted by the company’s Class 802s fleet achieving a best ever performance in the period over the middle of 2022. 

GWR’s engineering director Simon Green said: “Since the introduction of this Intercity Express Train fleet almost five years ago, they have made a massive contribution delivering more services and seats and have allowed us to respond positively to changes in demand for leisure travel across many of our long-distance routes.” 

Hitachi Rail has been focussing on new technology for the UK’s rail industry with a new partnership with the Global Centre of Rail Excellence to test tech to improve train maintenance and the rail experience in a facility thought to be Europe’s first purpose-built site for rail infrastructure.