TOKYO: Japanese high-tech giant Hitachi Ltd. plans to build railway cars in Britain in a multi-billion-dollar deal that would also create hundreds of new jobs, a company spokesman said Tuesday.

Hitachi, which makes products ranging from refrigerators to nuclear power systems, plans to replace part of Britain's high-speed train fleet by 2018, spokesman Takeshi Kawakami told AFP.

Hitachi is expected to build a total of 1,400 hybrid railway cars that run on lithium-ion batteries and diesel engines.

The deal, expected to be inked by March 2010, is worth one trillion yen (11.36 billion dollars) and will create up to 500 jobs, the official said, adding that the location of the assembly plant remained undecided.

The British government earlier this year chose the Japanese company to spearhead the project to replace two aging fleets that link London with the northern and western parts of the country.

Hitachi, a sprawling conglomerate hit hard by the global economic downturn, is aiming to boost revenue from its transportation business from 20 percent to 70 percent by 2015.

Next month it is expected to ship some 170 rail cars for Britain's Channel Tunnel Rail Link, as part of a 2005 deal.