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Hitachi Energy to use £400m facility in Wales to test cutting edge train technology

18 Apr 2023 4 minute read
Image: Hitachi Energy

Hitachi Energy’s world-leading energy security expertise is coming to Wales after partnering with the Global Centre of Rail Excellence (GCRE) to test the latest in rail technology.

The collaboration is supported by both the Welsh and UK Government and follows Hitachi Energy winning a competitive tender to provide a Static Frequency Converter to manage the power grid and provide energy security.

As part of the partnership, Hitachi Rail will test cutting edge technology at GCRE in Wales and work to improve energy security with their industry leading Static Frequency Converter.

Wales’ Economy Minister, Vaughan Gething MS said: “This exciting new partnership between Hitachi and the Global Centre of Rail Excellence is great news for Wales.

“It highlights the important and high calibre commercial partners that are interested in testing and innovating at what will be a genuinely world class facility.

“This demonstrates why the Welsh Government was right to invest in GCRE and to help develop this exciting concept. Hitachi can see the potential and unique added value this facility will provide. I very much hope to see more creative partnerships being developed with GCRE in the future.”

This strategic partnership will allow Hitachi to use its wide expertise in Green Energy and Mobility to deliver innovative solutions from wind to wheel in the UK.

Hitachi will use GCRE’s £400m world-leading facility in Wales to test future rolling stock and its pioneering battery technology, which has been co-developed with Sunderland’s Turntide.


Hitachi has developed digital solutions that can automate track, overhead lines and vegetation monitoring, to pinpoint faults and reduce costs.

GCRE can support next stages of development, which include using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to predict areas at risk of a fault and worthy of preventative maintenance.

The GCRE is a purpose-built rail innovation centre being constructed in south Wales that will provide a site for world class research, testing and certification of rolling stock, infrastructure and innovative new rail technologies.

The site will provide services for a UK and European market. Currently, there is no dedicated, purpose-built facility for rail infrastructure testing in Europe, nor is there a railway test loop of this scale anywhere in the UK.

Traction supplies for railways can present unique challenges to the electrical network. The use of Hitachi Energy’s static frequency converters (SFC) eliminates these challenges and provides a stable supply to the rolling stock.

It also enables the use of renewable energy and supports the GCRE project to become the UK’s first net-zero railway.

Hitachi has 187 intercity trains in passenger service with European Train Control System (ETCS), this creates an opportunity to test future upgrades of ETCS to ensure a seamless transition in digital signalling.

Currently, testing new technology takes place on the existing UK rail network and track access and testing time is restricted so passengers are not affected.

The GCRE facility increases flexibility and opportunities to conduct testing, shortening the timeline to improve and validate new innovations which will help modernise the railway by closing the gap between development and adoption.

Global Centre of Rail Excellence site when it’s finished – Image: GCRE


Testing Hitachi’s cutting-edge rail technology will help create a new digital skills-base at Welsh site, and support jobs in the wider supply chain.

For more than 40 years, Hitachi Energy’s technology has been the reference for railway applications with a proven solution for railway grids.

Its pioneering technology and innovative control algorithms have enabled the transition towards a modern railway grid fed by SFC, granting its stability and performance.

Industry and Economic Security Minister, Nusrat Ghani MP said: “Hitachi’s partnership with the Global Centre of Rail Excellence marks a real vote of confidence in our rail industry and an important step forward in the race to net zero rail in the UK.

“The GCRE will be vital to decarbonising our rail network, helping cut rail costs and creating new jobs and skills through the partnerships it secures like this one with Hitachi.”

Jim Brewin, Head of UK & Ireland at Hitachi Rail, said: “This partnership reinforces Hitachi’s commitment to UK innovation and supply chain, which has already seen us spend over £2.6 billion in the UK since 2015.

“Through this initial agreement, we’re proud to help GCRE realise its potential and ambition to become a global hub for rail innovation. Being able to test British trains and technology at the test loop in Wales will ultimately benefit both rail passengers and the UK economy.”

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1 year ago

I hope they find a way to make this a visitor attraction.

Wynford Jones
Wynford Jones
1 year ago
Reply to  CWL

A brilliant idea. Not only could it attract rail enthusiasts but also school parties – thereby motivating children into careers in transport technology and digital technology in general.

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