More than 1,000 companies have attended the first Open Day event for Hitachi Rail Europe’s Intercity Express Programme in the North East today.
The event featured representatives from Durham County Council, County Durham Development Company, Merchant Place Developments, Agility Trains and Hitachi Rail Europe, publically speaking about the IEP for the first time since the Government gave the £4.5bn project the go-ahead in March.
As the majority partner in Agility Trains, Hitachi is to invest in a new manufacturing facility at Amazon Park, Newton Aycliffe, Co. Durham, creating hundreds of jobs and contributing millions of pounds to the local economy.
Companies present at the Open Day learnt about the future opportunities to supply components and services for the manufacture of Hitachi Rail Europe’s Super Express Train, which will replace the UK’s ageing fleet of diesel Intercity 125s.
Alistair Dormer, CEO of Agility Trains, said: “It’s great to see so many local firms interested in supplying to Hitachi Rail at this early stage in the project’s development. The local community in the North East has been instrumental in making IEP a reality, and we intend to use suppliers from this region whenever possible.
“We are committed to the North East, the birth place of the steam train in the 19th century, and are proud to play a leading role in helping to re-establish its status as a centre of excellence for the railway industry in the UK in the 21st century.”
Development at Amazon Park will start next year. When complete, the facility will be the first new train manufacturing plant to be built in the UK for decades. Full scale production of the Super Express Train will begin at the Hitachi Rail facility in 2015, with the first trains delivered in 2016.
Geoff Hunton, technical director of Merchant Place Developments, the organisation that will be responsible for the building of the factory, said: “Initial design work is now at an advanced stage. It is fitting now that we engage with suppliers today to form a database of interested parties for issue in the fullness of time to contractors. The range of services required covers several key areas – site preparation, rail connection, construction, fit-out, completion/hand over, management and so on.”
The Hitachi Super Express trains will be used on the East Coast Main Line and the London – South Wales Great Western Main Lines.