Hitachi Rail Europe
Martin Walker

Member Article

Darlington firm scoops prestigious Hitachi contract

Darlington firm Shepherd Construction has been handed the prestigious contract to build Hitachi Rail Europe’s £82m train-building factory in the region.

York-based Shepherd, which has a main regional office in Darlington, will be unveiled as the lead contractor during a high-profile ceremony today (Friday), and with work set to start later this year. Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, Vince Cable, and Secretary of State for Transport, Patrick McLoughlin, are today in Newton Aycliffe to celebrate the move.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has invested £4m, under the Grant for Business Investment scheme.

The first contract to be fulfilled at the plant will be the fleet of 122 Class 800 series trains for the East Coast Main Line and the Great Western Main Line as part of the Intercity Express Programme (IEP).

Agility Trains, of which Hitachi Rail Europe is the main shareholder, last year won the contract for the IEP and Hitachi will design, manufacture and deliver the trains into daily passenger service. Hitachi Rail Europe is working with developer Merchant Place Developments (MPD), who are leading the project to build and fit out the factory.

Cable said: “Hitachi’s decision to base its European factory in Newton Aycliffe shows the UK is an attractive place for international businesses to invest and grow.

“The factory will be a great boost to the North East economy, creating over 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.”

Mr McLoughlin, said: “The IEP is part of the government’s commitment to investing in our nation’s infrastructure. Once they are on the network they will slash journey times, boost capacity to many of our cities in the South West and up the East Coast to Scotland.

“Building theses new trains is supporting jobs and manufacturing across the UK. Like our plans for a national high speed rail network, these new faster trains will help stimulate economic growth by improving connections between our major cities.”

Hitachi’s executive chairman and chief executive, Alistair Dormer, added: “We want to establish Hitachi Rail Europe as a key British manufacturer of trains and this new factory is a huge step towards doing that. In just 18 months, what stands today as an empty field will become home to a state-of the-art facility, manufacturing trains for Europe and the UK.

“I would like to congratulate Shepherd which has won the tender to build the plant against strong competition. We look forward to working with them and Merchant Place Developments on this exciting project.” Mark Perkins, chief executive for Shepherd Group Built Environment, said: “We’re delighted to have been awarded the contract to build this landmark development in the North East, which will have a momentous effect on the prosperity of the region, as the biggest investment into the area for more than 20 years.”

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

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