Transport Secretary Chris Grayling says Hitachi Rail Europe’s first train to roll of its Newton Aycliffe production line is a real economic boost to the North East.
Mr Grayling attended a special event at Hitachi’s £82m factory, which opened 15 months ago, to celebrate the completion of the first Intercity Express Programme (IEP) train being assembled on Aycliffe Business Park.
“We are determined to take the big decisions for Britain and are investing record amounts to modernise the rail network, deliver better journeys for passengers and drive economic growth,” he said.
“This first train to roll out of Hitachi’s new factory in Newton Aycliffe shows we are 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 new trains will give passengers more seats, greater comfort, better reliability and faster, more frequent services.”
Northern Powerhouse Minister, Andrew Percy, added: “Our plans to build the Northern Powerhouse are right on track with 187,000 jobs created in the past year alone.
“Now the high-tech Hitachi trains produced here in the North East will create thousands more jobs along the line and help get the North firing on all cylinders.”
Hitachi Rail Europe will employ around 900 people by Spring 2017, and 2,000 people across 14 UK sites by 2019.
The Japanese firm says a host of British businesses will continue to supply parts for new trains, supporting thousands of additional jobs countrywide.
In addition to building new fleets, Hitachi will maintain the trains at newly built facilities.
By 2020 Hitachi will become one of the largest maintainer of UK trains. In total Hitachi will have 281 trains running on the UK network, carrying millions of passengers along intercity and commuter routes.
The first train leaving Hitachi’s UK production line marks a major milestone ahead of the introduction of IEP, the £5.7bn Government-funded programme to modernise UK intercity travel.
By the end of the programme, Hitachi will have supplied 122 modern intercity trains for passengers travelling on the Great Western and East Coast main lines, offering vastly improved levels of capacity, reliability and comfort.