Published: 5th September 2015
Hitachi Rail has brought rail manufacturing back to its historical British home between Darlington and Shildon with the opening of its £82 million Rail Vehicle Manufacturing Facility in Newton Aycliffe.
The Government-ordered new Class 800/801 InterCity Express (IEP) trains for the East Coast and Great Western Main Lines will be built alongside Abellio Scotrail’s AT200 commuter trains.
The opening ceremony commenced in the drizzle with an acrobat suspended from a balloon bringing a time capsule to the Secretary of State for Transport Patrick McLoughlin MP and Mr Higashihara, President and COO of Hitachi Ltd. To be buried outside the entrance of the building.
This included a small model of Hitachi’s Class 800/801 IEP train, digital photos of trains painted by local school children, a map of Newton Aycliffe, profile of site architect Masayuki Ninomiya and a mobile phone with photos and videos. It will be unearthed in 25 years time.
The Hitachi Ltd Chairman and CEO, Hiroaki Nakanishi welcomed Patrick McLoughlin MP and Rail Minister Claire Perry MP plus 500 guests to the opening ceremony and for a glimpse inside the new factory. The event culminated with a spectacular unveiling of the first fully fitted-out IEP carriage brought specially to the event from Japan.
It was suspected that the prime Minister would attend and this he did with The Chancellor in a show of political schmoozing with the rail industry. Hitachi’s decision to bring train manufacturing back to the North East came after the government awarded them a massive £5.7 billion Intercity Express contract which includes a 27 year maintenance deal.
The facility, as it is now called, is will become Hitachi’s European HQ and they hope to manufacture trains for EU Member States, challenging Siemens in Germany and Alstom in France. It is anticipated that the factory will bring over 700 direct jobs and support thousands more in the supply chain.
The new train fleets will be fully operational by 2019 running over large sections of the national network. The phased introduction starts on the Great Western line in 2017 and the East Coast route a year later.
Prime Minister David Cameron said: This massive investment from Hitatchi shows confidence in the strength of Britain’s growing economy. This new train factory will not only provide good jobs but will build the next generation of intercity trains, improving travel for commuters and families, as well as strengthening the infrastructure we need to help the UK grow.
Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said: Today we see a major boost for UK manufacturing with Hitachi investing millions in returning train manufacturing to the North East.
This state of the art facility will grow and secure jobs for decades to come while at the same time revitalising one of our oldest industries in the region within which this tradition is synonymous.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: The state-of-the-art IEP trains that will be manufactured here will transform rail travel for countless passengers in the north east and south west.
Not only will these trains allow us to operate more services, with more seats, and faster journeys, the improvements will also bring great opportunities for growth.
Chairman and CEO of Hitachi Ltd, Hiroaki Nakanishi, said: “Today is a momentous occasion for Hitachi Rail, Newton Aycliffe and the British rail industry. We have brought train design and manufacturing back home to its birthplace in the North East.”
“In our world-class facility we will combine the best of Japanese technology with the best of British manufacturing to make the best trains for Britain and the world.”
“It is our culture as a business to take a long-term view in everything we do. From our investment here in Newton Aycliffe, to our network of new train maintenance centres across the UK, to our ongoing work in building a strong regional supply chain – Hitachi is here to stay.”
Managing Director of Hitachi Rail Europe, Karen Boswell, said: “Our immediate goal is to deliver the Class 800/801 trains for the IEP on time, on budget and to exceed expectations. These Hitachi trains will deliver new comfort and reliability to customers, improving seat capacity, luggage and storage - better than anything already in use.”
There were two live acts at the event commencing with a talented string quartet who had to fill in time while the guests waited for the Prime Minister and Chancellor to arrive. There was also a spectacular live shadow dancing performance by artistes very cleverly depicting the story of Hitachi. This was followed by a video showcasing the construction of the 43,000 m2 facility before the first carriage was unveiled, shipped into the UK for the event to a flashing light show.
After this, the railway press were allowed a limited look around the new railway factory, a glimpse of the future and a far cry from the railway Works in the area 200 years ago!