Darren Cumner
Martin Walker

Member Article

Six firms shortlisted for Hitachi contract

Six companies have been shortlisted to win the main contract to build Hitachi Rail Europe’s £82m train-building facility in County Durham.

Hitachi told Bdaily that it expects to make an announcement in September, with construction work on the 86-month programme due to start in November.

Bdaily understands two of the shortlisted candidates are based in the North East, with two London firms and two companies from the Midlands also in the running.

While the emphasis is very much on cost, Hitachi and Newcastle developers Merchant Place Developments are keen to hand as much work to local firms as possible.

Hitachi has previously said that even if the main contract was to go to a firm from outside the North-East, it’s likely the majority of the sub-contracting work will go to local companies.

But it hasn’t stopped interest from as far afield as the US and Japan, as corporations from around the world bid to get involved.

Hundreds of contractors in the region are hoping to get a piece of the pie when the work is dished out.

More than 700 firms – ranging from steel erectors and sign-makers to electricians and plumbers – are all in the mix, with about half of them from the North East.

When building work starts later this year the Merchant Park site will host one of the biggest construction projects in Britain as former farmland is transformed into a state-of-the-art manufacturing site complete with a research and development department and test track.

Its construction phase will create 200 jobs, and when completed in August 2016 will employ more than 700 people, with thousands more in the supply chain.

Darren Cumner, Hitachi’s Aycliffe plant manager, told Bdaily: “It’s going very well. Archaeologists are currently on site and they’ll be finished very soon.

“Depending on the weather and who wins the contract, we’ll be looking to start in November, so around Christmas we should start to see some activity.

“From the outside, you probably won’t be able to see anything significantly growing until the middle of next year.

“It’s an 86-month programme which puts us at an August 2015 handover.

“We’re currently working with six contractors and that process is going well, so a couple more months and I’ll be able to give you the answer.”

Hitachi last week announced that it had won a £1.2bn contract to build a further 270 carriages as part of the £5.8bn Intercity Express Programme, which was sparked by the original East Coast mainline deal worth £4.5bn to manufacture 596 trains.

Mr Cumner added: “The factory was built on the first order, and I think this shows we’re here for the long-term.

“To remind everyone, it’s an £82m investment, we actually own the land and the building, that’s been future-proved to build different types of trains.

“We’re actively looking across Europe and the UK for all the orders we can, just to get the thing filled.”

The first batch of class 800 series trains will enter revenue-earning service on the Great Western Main Line in 2017 and on the East Coast Main Line in 2018.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Martin Walker .

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