A computer generated image of what the Newton Aycliffe plant will look like (CREDIT: Ryder Architecture)

Hitachi to move rail arm HQ to London

Hitachi has decided to move its global rail headquarters from Tokyo to London after winning a manufacturing deal in the North East.

The decision has been hailed by ministers as a "huge vote of confidence for Britain" and comes after the firm won a £1.2bn deal to make the next generation of inter-city trains at its new factory in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, last year.

A spokeswoman for Hitachi UK said the decision will not entail a large exodus of staff from Japan to the UK and the Japanese arm of the business will still be conducted from its offices in Tokyo.

Chancellor George Osborne told BBC Breakfast: "For people like me who have grown up with news of manufacturing jobs leaving Britain, isn't it fantastic that manufacturing jobs are coming back to Britain."

Business Secretary Vince Cable said: "This move demonstrates a huge vote of confidence in Britain, its workers and its rail industry from one of Japan's biggest businesses. It follows the company's announcement last year of 750 new jobs at their factory in Newton Aycliffe, which I was delighted to launch with (Transport Secretary) Patrick McLoughlin.

"It's further testament to the Government's industrial strategy which is giving companies of Hitachi's stature the confidence to invest in the UK in an expanding rail sector, creating new jobs and increasing exports that will help sustain long-term economic growth."

The firm’s new purpose-built factory in Newton Aycliffe is expected to be operational from 2015 with full production starting in 2016. A total of 270 carriages will be manufactured at the new plant, enhancing the factory's ability to win lucrative rail contracts across Europe.

Head of global rail operations Alistair Dormer said: "We will continue to deliver excellent service to our customer base whilst seeking new markets and opportunities for expansion."

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: "This is an incredible vote of confidence in a growing Britain that is exporting more and making great things once again.

"Nothing says that better than the company that built the first bullet train putting its HQ here to sell abroad, alongside a new factory and new jobs in northern England. This is just the sort of growth we want to see more of as we invest in rail and build HS2."

Mick Whelan, general secretary of train drivers' union Aslef, said: "We welcome this news because it will create much-needed jobs in the North East of Britain. I would rather it was a British company creating jobs and winning orders from the Department for Transport, but it is good news.

"We want investment, in trains and carriages as well as in our infrastructure, to build a better railway for everyone in Britain."

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