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Hitachi Eyes UK High-Speed Rail Project By March

Japan's Hitachi said on Tuesday it expects a delay of a few months in clinching a British high-speed railway deal worth over $5.6 billion -- a deal it hopes will add momentum to its push into the overseas market for eco-friendly trains.

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Hitachi, which is headed for its fourth straight annual loss, is bidding to supply and maintain hybrid rail cars powered by lithium-ion batteries and diesel engines.

It won preferential bidding rights for the train system in February and now hopes to seal the deal by March instead of a previously mentioned December date, a spokesman said.

About 20 percent of sales at the company's transportation system business comes from abroad, but Hitachi plans to raise this ratio to 70 percent by 2015 and shift more production abroad to avoid a stronger yen.

Hitachi plans to begin supplying the train system in the financial year
beginning April 2011.

Japan's Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Toshiba Corp and Nippon Signal are also looking to invest in rail projects abroad, as the focus there shifts to environment-friendly trains from airplanes and cars.

Hitachi, whose main revenue earners are train systems, nuclear reactors, elevators and IT services, last week said it would raise up to $4.6 billion to cut debt and turn around its sprawling operations.

Shares in Hitachi dropped 1.2 percent, underperforming a 0.3 percent decline in Tokyo's electrical machinery index.