On December 5, 2019, Rock Rail reached financial close on the £350m financing of Hitachi intercity trains based on bullet train technology. The new fleet consists of 135 vehicles comprising both electric trains and electric-diesel bi-mode trains. The trains will be built by Hitachi at their Newton Aycliffe factory in North-East England and are scheduled to enter service in 2022. They will be quieter and greener than the diesel trains that they replace and are expected to reduce carbon emissions by 61%.
The trains will run on the West Coast Partnership franchise, run by a joint venture between First Group and Trenitalia operating as Avanti West Coast. Avanti will take over the services previously run by Virgin Trains and servicing routes connecting London, the Midlands, North Wales and the North-West of England.
The equity for the project will be provided by Aberdeen Standard Investments and Rock Rail. The senior debt will be provided by Aviva Investors and Sun Life Investments.
Operis acted as financial modelling advisor to the sponsors and an independent Operis team acted as model auditor on behalf of the senior lenders. This is the fifth project that Operis has advised the Rock Rail team (and the fourth advising Rock Rail and Aberdeen Standard) and we are delighted to be able to continue to support them.