Hitachi Says Rail Order Push Could Lead to Building German Plant

Hitachi Ltd., the Japanese maker of railcars, electronics and machinery, said it is working for new rail orders that could lead it to consider a new plant in Germany or an expansion of the U.K. factory it’s building.

“We’re going full steam ahead in pushing for orders,” President Hiroaki Nakanishi told reporters today in Tokyo. The manufacturer is targeting sales to Sweden, Vietnam, India and Brazil, he said.

Japan’s trainmakers are seeking orders abroad as demand for new railroads shrinks at home, where the population is declining. Hitachi won a 4.5 billion-pound ($7.4 billion) U.K. train deal with John Laing Plc last year, and is bidding for part of the 600 railcars needed for the 16 billion-pound Crossrail route, which will provide the first east-west service across London by 2018.

“If we win the Crossrail order, we really will have our order books full,” Nakanishi told reporters today in Tokyo. “Then if we get more any orders, we’ll have to either rethink the factory we’re building or consider building another base in Germany.”

Hitachi is constructing a factory in County Durham, northern England, to make carriages to replace vehicles on intercity routes in the U.K. The production facilities will build a total of 866 carriages for the U.K., after winning an additional order in July, and will start operation in 2015, according to the company.

Hitachi already built high-speed trains for the U.K. for the British side of the Channel Tunnel.