Published: 21st May 2015
The UK’s largest rail industry trade show took place at The Birmingham NEC between May 12th and 14th with hundreds of stands covering every aspects of the rail industry. There were no full size trains present but a glimpse of the future was provided by Rolling Stock manufacturers from across the world. Two of them brought models of their trains to show visitors what the future may hold.
One was the long established German train builder, Siemens and the other has not yet cracked the UK or European rail market. This is The China South Locomotive and Rolling Stock Corporation Ltd (CSR) who booked a huge glossy stand with over a dozen models of their trains and locomotives already supplied to emerging rail markets worldwide. Their display was a clear statement that they are serious about breaking into the European rail market with trains on display ranging from very high speed (380kph) to commuter trains.
The UK Rolling stock market has been estimated to need between 3000 and 3500 new carriages in the foreseeable future which will be needed to operate on High Speed Two and Three plus cross-country routes to be re-opened such as Oxford to Bedford, Milton Keynes and Cambridge. Given each carriage costs nearly two million pounds, the size of the contracts at stake can be seen and when the long term associated maintenance is also considered, there are billions of pounds at stake. The new Hitachi Class 800/801 IEP trains and the Siemens Thameslink fleet are examples of this.
Siemens can call on more than 100 years of rail experience and their ‘next generation’ train was unveiled at the show. It was a 125mph EMU called ‘Verve’. Which they said will be able to outperform a Pendolino and maybe the Hitachi new trains and combined with lighter bogies, about three tons lighter than currently used will mean reduced operating costs.
There will be reduced track access charges and consequentially less electricity used than other trains which will bring huge savings over the 25 to 30 year design life. Verve has been designed for long distance travel and fitted with more luggage space than in their current fleet of Desiros. The company intend to double their UK fleet size within three years and this target will be met when the Thameslink Units arrive in the UK from later this year.
Siemens will be competing with Hitachi and CSR for this market and they had a model of their 380kph streamlined passenger train on display. One of their brochures illustrated their idea of a Very High Speed Test Train with a top speed of 500KPH which would normally run at a mere 450kph!
Rail.co.UK will be looking at this and other trains of the future in the next few weeks.
A few months ago, the UK Government signed an accord with the Chinese Government about funding major infrastructure projects such as UK High Speed Rail. So who is to say that if they back the construction of these routes that they havn’t been promised a place on the short-list to supply trains as well? Or is that the conspiracy theory?
Railtex also hosted other less known train renovation and manufacturing companies such as Bombardier, Knorr-Bremse and RVEL now owned by Loram and they are about to commence train operations in the UK.