Japanese firm Hitachi said it expects to sign a $5.6bn (¥500bn) deal next year with the UK to supply hybrid rail cars, according to Reuters.

The company said it won preferential bidding rights for the rail cars in February and the deal was earlier scheduled to be signed in December this year.

The company now hopes to sign the deal in March 2010 and begin the supply in 2011.

Under the deal the company would supply and maintain its hybrid rail cars, which are powered by lithium ion batteries and diesel engines.