The new Hitachi factory at Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, has now built its first trains. A ceremony was held at the cutting-edge £82 million plant on Friday to celebrate the first Intercity Express trains rolling off the production line.
Attending the ceremony were Chris Grayling, the minister for transport, the northern powerhouse minister Andrew Percy, the Japanese ambassador Koji Tsuruoka and representatives of Virgin Trains and Great Western Railways.
The new Intercity Express trains will be used on the East Coast and Great Western Main Lines, where it is hoped they will improve efficiency, punctuality and reliability.
Hitachi’s Newton Aycliffe plant employs 50 apprentices. It is hoped that the factory will have created 900 jobs by Spring 2017, with additional jobs created by the factory’s supply chain.
At Friday’s ceremony, guests were able to inspect and board the new trains, see trains being built and meet with the members of the train building teams and the apprentices. Hitachi also said the guests could “witness first-hand the engineering skills Hitachi is so proud to be investing in.”
Chris Grayling said, “The first train to roll out of Hitachi’s new factory in Newton Aycliffe shows that Britain is open for business and will provide a real economic boost to the north east, not only by providing jobs, but also by investing in the skills needed to provide the transport network our country needs for the future.”
“These trains will give passengers more seats, greater comfort, better reliability and faster, more frequent services.”
Andrew Percy commented, “The high-tech Hitachi trains produced here in the north east will create thousands more jobs and help get the north firing on all cylinders.”
Karen Boswell, managing director of Hitachi Rail Europe, said, “Today is a celebration of the return of train manufacturing to the north east, supporting thousands of jobs and developing a strong engineering skills base in the region.”
Kentaro Masai, chief operating officer of Hitachi Ltd, said, “It is my greatest pleasure to be here today to celebrate the completion of the first Hitachi Intercity Express train manufactured in the UK.”
“It was 90 years ago in 1926 that a senior Hitachi engineer first visited the north of England to study the leading edge railway technology of the time.”
“Today we have a modern intercity train built in the north east by combining the best of Japanese technology delivered with the best of British manufacturing.”
The new Intercity Express trains, 122 of which will be built at Newton Aycliffe, should be operating on the Great Western Main Line by the end of 2017 and on the East Coast Main Line in 2018.
The Newton Aycliffe plant is also in the running to receive an enormous £7.5 billion contract to build trains for the HS2 project, which aims to improve the rail links between Britain’s major cities by 2033.