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Combining technology with history at new site.

Byline: Tom Keighley Reporter tom.keighley@trinitymirror.com

THE PRIME MINISTER said he hopes Hitachi Rail's new PS82m Newton Aycliffe factory is the start of a "revival" in manufacturing in the region.

David Cameron and the Chancellor, George Osborne welcomed train manufacturing back to the North East at an opening ceremony attended by hundreds of customers, employees and the world's media.

Mr Cameron said: "This is a really big moment for the region. Train manufacturing has come back to the North East. It is great to be adding to the history of railways in the North East which extends back to George Stephenson - the father of railways.

"It's great in terms of jobs for local people and it's great for skills - the sort of highly skilled manufacturing work that our country needs as we rebuild our manufacturing base. It also means the potential for thousands of jobs in the supply chain. We want this to be the start of a great revival in terms of manufacturing in the North East."

The facility will eventually employ more than 700 people who will help to build the new InterCity Express (IEP) trains for the East Coast Mainline and Great Western Mainline, as well as AT200 commuter trains for Scotland.

More than 500 guests at the ceremony were shown the first fully fitted out IEP train, which was shipped from Japan for the event.

Secretary of State for Transport Patrick McLoughlin, Rail Minister Claire Perry, Japanese Ambassador to the UK Keiichi Hayashi and Hitachi Ltd chairman and chief executive officer Hiroaki Nakanishi were also in attendance.

Mr Osborne said: "What a great moment, not just for this company, but for the North East of England.

"We've talked a lot in this government about rebalancing the economy and trying to create a northern powerhouse. I can tell you that jobs are being created faster in the North East than any other part of the country and wages are rising are also going up four times as fast as the UK average. The North East is a real manufacturing success story now."

Mr Cameron said the factory also represented the next stage in the UK's plans for infrastructure as Hitachi Rail Europe's largest order to date is the PS5.7bn InterCity Express.

He added: "This factory is going to be build more than 120 of the next generation of trains. Those trains will revolutionise travel in our country. Through this area on the East Coast Mainline and to Wales, and to the South West - they will be some of the fastest trains. The Chancellor has talked about the Northern Powerhouse, and this infrastructure is a vital part of that. It's about joining up the great cities and towns of the north. That's why we're investing across the country in roads, Crossrail and of course HS2."

The first IEP trains manufactured at the Newton Aycliffe facility will be ready for operation on the Great Western Main Line from 2017, and the East Coast Main Line from 2018.

Alistair Dormer, global chief executive officer at Hitachi Rail, hinted the facility could be used as a springboard for exports around the world. He said the plant would be the "engine room of growth" for Hitachi in the UK and Europe.

Mr Dormer boasted that 50% of expenditure on the PS82m factory was made within a 50 mile radius of the 104 acre Merchant Park site.

Hiroaki Nakanishi, Hitachi chief executive officer, 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 - Hitachi is here to stay."

CAPTION(S):

Prime Minister David Cameron with Hiroaki Nakanishi, CEO of Hitachi at <Bthe new Hitachi Rail Europe facility in Newton Aycliffe county Durham

The official <Bopening of Hitachi Rail Europe's PS82m Rail Vehicle Manufacturing Facility in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham.

The Hitachi <Bopening at Newton Ayecliffe
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Sep 4, 2015
Words:719
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