Hitachi Rail Europe has announced the building of its new vehicle manufacturing facility in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, has been completed, marking an important milestone in the multi-million pound project that will serve as a base for construction of new trains for the Great Western Main Line.
During the topping-out ceremony, Hitachi Rail Europe’s managing director Keith Jordan announced that the facility will provide a home for the newly established Design Office that will be responsible for the design of the AT200 regional and commuter trains, which will also be manufactured in the Newton Aycliffe factory.
Hitachi unveiled the design of the AT200 train in London earlier this year, showcasing innovative ideas for the use of interconnected devices and new seats specifically designed to prevent injuries in accidents.
“Today’s topping out ceremony signifies a milestone in the construction of our Vehicle Manufacturing Facility in Newton Aycliffe,” Jordan said during the event.
“This is no longer just a concept – everybody can see for themselves the sheer scale of the site that will act as the hub for our rail-manufacturing work in the UK and across Europe.
“With the establishment of our Design Division, we further enhance professional opportunities and our commitment here in Newton Aycliffe and the north-east of England. This will be our UK and European rail centre, where we design and build trains for Great Britain and the rest of Europe.”
Work will now concentrate on the interior fit-out of the facility, which has already started. The £82m development was launched in November 2013 and is expected to be completed by mid-2015.
“The new factory at Newton Aycliffe will benefit the North-East’s economy for years to come, creating hundreds of jobs and apprenticeships and showcasing the fusion of British and Japanese engineering excellence,” said Rail Minister Claire Perry MP. "It is great to see railway industry jobs returning to the North-East, home of the Stockton-Darlington line where Britain’s railway journey began.”
The construction of Hitachi Rail Europe’s Vehicle Manufacturing Facility in the heart of the newly established Merchant Park is hoped to spur further development, attracting technology companies and start-ups.
“Looking to the future, Merchant Park is benefitting from the upturn in the economy and what is becoming known as ‘the Hitachi effect’ for both Newton Aycliffe and Merchant Park, for which we thank Hitachi Rail Europe,” said Geoff Hunton, director of Merchant Anglo Property (AP) Holdings.
“We intend to continue to invest in Newton Aycliffe as we are confident that this is a new era for County Durham. To this end we are expecting to make some exciting announcements in the next few weeks regarding further development in the area, which we envisage will create up to a further 4,500 job opportunities in addition to those within Merchant Park.”
As part of the British Department for Transport’s Intercity Express Programme, Hitachi Rail Europe will replace the UK’s ageing fleet of Intercity trains. The trains will be manufactured in the rolling stock plant in Newton Aycliffe and serviced in a number of new maintenance depots along the Great Western Main Line and the East Coast Main Line.
Hitachi's new AT200 trains will be manufactured in the Newton Aycliffe facility: