Hitachi Puts Global Rail CEO in London for Express Market

Hitachi Ltd. appointed a global rail chief based in London, bringing the Japanese high-speed train manufacturer closer to key European markets.

Alistair Dormer, who heads Hitachi Rail Europe, will occupy the new post of global chief executive officer for rail systems from April 1, leading a management team charged with boosting export orders, Tokyo-based Hitachi said today.

Hitachi established a bridgehead in Europe with a deal to supply Javelin trains for the High Speed 1 line into London, and is building a factory in northeast England after winning a 4.5 billion-pound ($7.5 billion) contract to supply express trains for Britain’s East Coast and Great Western routes. At the same time, it lost out to Bombardier Inc., operator of the U.K.’s only existing train plant, in the 1 billion-pound tender to produce rolling stock for London’s new Crossrail line.

“We will continue to deliver excellent service to our customer base whilst seeking new markets and opportunities,” Dormer said in today’s statement. “We will work to realize our export potential from the U.K., expanding into Europe and emergent markets.”

Japan’s trainmakers are seeking orders abroad as demand for new railroads shrinks at home, where the population is falling. Hitachi, described on its website as “the key player” in the Shinkansen bullet train, said in December it was working on new rail orders that could lead it to consider a plant in Germany or expansion of the County Durham facility in the U.K.

Siemens, Alstom

“This move demonstrates a huge vote of confidence in Britain, its workers and its rail industry from one of Japan’s biggest businesses,” U.K. Business Secretary Vince Cable said in a statement responding to Dormer’s appointment.

Hitachi also appointed Kentaro Masai as global chief operating officer with responsibility for relations with Japanese customers and the Japanese government.

“The announcement today will not mean a move of large numbers of employees from one of Hitachi Rail’s location to the other, but a move of the overall responsibility for the Hitachi Rail Systems Business,” Hitachi Rail Europe said. “Alistair will continue to be based in the U.K. and the decision-making responsibility will therefore rest with him here in the U.K.”

Among other global express-train manufacturers, Canada’s Bombardier runs its Transportation unit from Berlin, Siemens AG bases its high-speed rail business in Krefeld, Germany, and Alstom SA builds its TGV and AGV sets predominantly in La Rochelle, France.

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