THE new plant where hundreds of new rail vehicles are to be assembled for intercity and urban services in England, Scotland and Wales has been opened today.
The £82 million factory at Newton Aycliffe in Country Durham is owned by Hitachi, which is a key member of the consortium Agility Trains.
Agility won contracts to build two fleets of Intercity Express trains for the East Coast and Great Western Main Lines, although the introduction of the GW in two or three years from now is bogged down in controversy as the RMT remains in dispute with First Great Western about staffing and on-board catering facilities.
The plant will also produce trains in the Hitachi AT series for the newly electrified route between Glasgow Queen Street and Edinburgh.
Hitachi Ltd Chairman and CEO, Hiroaki Nakanishi, welcomed transpory secretary Patrick McLoughlin MP and rail minister Claire Perry MP, along with over 500 invited guests, to the opening ceremony.
Welcoming the opening, the Prime Minister David Cameron said: “This massive investment from Hitachi shows confidence in the strength of Britain’s growing economy. This new train facility will not only provide good jobs for working people but will build the next generation of intercity trains, improving travel for commuters and families, as well as strengthening the infrastructure we need to help the UK grow.”
Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said: “Today we see a major boost for the UK with Hitachi investing millions in returning train manufacturing to the North East. This state of the art facility will grow and secure jobs for decades to come and will help us to build the Northern Powerhouse, while at the same time revitalising one of our oldest industries in the region within which this tradition is synonymous.”
Hiroaki Nakanishi of Hitachi added: “Today is a momentous occasion for Hitachi Rail, Newton Aycliffe and the British rail industry. We have brought train design and manufacturing back home to its birthplace in the North East.”
The Newton Aycliffe plant will be the second major train-building factory in Britain. Bombardier runs the last former British Rail works at Litchurch Lane in Derby, where the Canadian firm is about to construct a fleet of 600 vehicles for Crossrail.