Darlington firm Shepherd Construction has been nominated as the lead contractor for the construction of Hitachi Rail Europe’s £82m train-building factory in the region. Work will commence before the end of this year, with completion set for mid 2015.
This is the first time that a new factory at Hitachi Rail Europe’s plant at Newton Aycliffe located in County Durham, will be built by Darlington-based contractor.
The £82m factory will create hundreds of jobs in North-East; 150 new jobs for the construction of the plant, and many more across the region’s supply chain. Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, Vince Cable, and Secretary of State for Transport, Patrick McLoughlin, will be amongst the attendees at a high-profile ceremony today at Newton Aycliffe to celebrate the occasion.
Upon the completion of construction, the 43,000 sq metre Merchant Park factory is expected to employ 730 north-east workers who are estimated to build more than 860 carriages from 2016 onwards. These carriages, which will replace the UK’s ageing high-speed train fleet, will be used on the government's Intercity Express Programme (IEP).
The new factory will strengthen the UK’s status as an ancestral train builder and help the country to dominate European export markets.
The first contract to be implemented at the plant will be a fleet of 122 Class 800 series trains destined for the East Coast Main Line, which will link the north-east to Scotland and London, and the Great Western Main Line that will run via Bristol to south Wales.
Mark Perkins, Shepherd Group Built Environment Chief Executive, declared that the plant is a “major success” for the firm as well as the North-East. He said: “We are delighted to build this landmark development and have invested a vast amount of time and research into Hitachi’s requirements to deliver such a large and complex scheme.
“Our supply chain, which includes construction and engineering services, gives us great confidence that we can deliver their ambitious business plans and we look forward to starting work.”
Hitachi Rail Europe is collaborating with developer Merchant Place Developments, who have the leading role in the construction of the factory.”
Alistair Dormer, Hitachi Rail Europe's Executive Chairman and Chief Executive, said: “We want to establish ourselves as a key British train maker and this factory is a huge step towards doing that.
“This investment will secure employment for more than 150 workers and many more from the supply chain. The majority will be from County Durham and the North-East.
“Shepherd won the tender to build the plant against strong competition and we look forward to working with them and Merchant Place Developments.”
Dr. Vince Cable, Business Secretary, said Hitachi's decision to build its European factory in Newton Aycliffe manifests the UK as a desirable place for international businesses to invest and expand. He said: “This plant will be a great boost to the North-East economy, creating more than 700 jobs and bringing a long tradition of rail manufacturing back to the region.
"With increasing numbers of passengers set to use our railways over the coming years, we also need to train and encourage more young people to enter the industry.”