After a launch ceremony on site, work is expected to start shortly on Hitachi Rail Europe’s new Intercity Express Trains factory at Newton Aycliffe in County Durham.
150 jobs will be created during the construction phase of the facility. When the factory is in full production 730 people will be directly employed by Hitachi Rail Europe. The plant will be built by Shepherd Construction – which operates from local offices in Darlington.
Says Shepherd’s chief executive, Mark Perkins, ‘We are delighted to have been awarded the contract to build this landmark development in the northeast, which will have a momentous effect on the prosperity of the region, as the biggest investment into the area for more than 20 years.
‘Shepherd invested a vast amount of time and research carefully gathering insight into Hitachi’s specific requirements before proposing exactly how we would deliver such a large and complex scheme.’
Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin visited the site with Business Secretary, Vince Cable. The pair took the opportunity to announce the creation of a new Rail Industry Supply Chain Forum.
‘The creation of the Rail Supply Chain Forum will ensure we are working in partnership with industry in line with our Industrial Strategy, so British businesses are better able to win work both here and abroad.’ The forum will be chaired by Terence Watson, UK president of Alstom.
The first IEP trains will start operating in Wales and the South West by 2017 and along the East Coast a year later. Once the full fleet is operational in 2020 they will provide a step change in speed, reliability comfort and more seats for passengers.
Says Patrick McLoughlin, ‘The Intercity Express Programme is part of the government’s commitment to investing in our nation’s infrastructure. Once they are on the network they will slash journey times, boost capacity to many of our cities in the South West and up the East Coast to Scotland.
‘Building these new trains is supporting jobs and manufacturing across the UK. Like our plans for a national high speed rail network, these new faster trains will help stimulate economic growth by improving connections between our major cities.’ Newcastle based Nomad Digital will supply the new trains onboard servers.