The region’s biggest port is helping to transport Hitachi Rail Europe’s new train carriage shells from Japan to Newton Aycliffe.
As Hitachi gears up for full production later this year, PD Ports is handling the majority of Hitachi Transport System Europe’s (HTSE) rail car imports destined for the firm’s new £82m train-assembling facility on Aycliffe Business Park.
The train body shells are arriving into the PD Ports-owned Teesport via a new Ro-Ro service direct from Japan by global shipping line, “K” Line.
Some body shells are also being brought into the Port by road where they will be stored prior to onward transportation by road vehicles to the facility.
The service, which started in September 2015, saw “K” Line’s newly announced 7500-unit Ro-Ro vessels ship the body shells from the Port of Tokuyama-Kudamatsu, Japan to Teesport.
The journey covered some 12,000 nautical miles over 35 days; the equivalent of travelling from John O’Groats to Land’s End more than 16 times.
Once at Teesport, the body shells are towed from the vessel in a specific order and then manoeuvred using bespoke lifting equipment designed by PD Ports in partnership with HTSE.
The body shells, which are 26 metres long, are then placed onto vehicles before being transported to a secure storage area at the Teesport.
Each vessel will carry five or nine car trains with a maximum of 18 body shells imported per shipment.
PD Ports business development director Geoff Lippitt said: “To be an integral part of the Hitachi supply chain is a role we are very proud to undertake.
“The importance of Hitachi Rail in the wider economic context of the North-East is of tremendous significance and will provide a much needed boost to the region.”
Hitachi expect to employ more than 700 people when full production starts later this year.
The £82m factory was officially opened in September 2015 by Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne.