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Dr Vince Cable will help start work on Hitachi Rail Europe's Newton Aycliffe plant
WORK to build an £82m factory to bring train building back to the cradle of the railways will officially start this week.
Hitachi Rail Europe will make the first cut in the ground for its new plant at Newton Aycliffe, in County Durham, on Friday, November 1.
The ceremony will see Dr Vince Cable, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, and Secretary of State for Transport, Patrick McLoughlin, join Hitachi Europe's executive chairman and chief executive, Alistair Dormer, for the historic occasion.
Hitachi is building more than 860 carriages at the plant from 2016 for the Government's Intercity Express Programme (IEP), creating 730 North-East jobs and revamping the UK's 40-year-old high-speed train fleet.
It will build the first trains in the company's factory in Kasado, Japan, which will be shipped to the UK for testing in early 2015.
Subsequent trains will be manufactured in Newton Aycliffe.
Mr Dormer previously revealed Sunderland-based car maker Nissan had played a role in the company moving to the North-East to make its trains.
He said: “We talked to Nissan about what works, about the workforce and relationships with unions.
“It was hugely beneficial and a significant factor in us going to the North-East. “Nissan spoke very highly of the region and their plant is up there with the best in the world.
If we can get anywhere near close to that in railways, then we will have done a great job.”
Earlier this year, Hitachi signed a contract with GB Railfreight, which will provide test drivers for its North-East trains and locomotives for transit movements and train crew throughout the test programme of the new Class 800 and Class 801 trains that will go into service on the Great Western Main Line from 2017.
Bosses have also agreed a deal with specialist glass maker Romag, based in Leadgate, near Consett, County Durham, which could last 27 years, with the company making and repairing windows for its class 800 and 801 models.
Other North-East firms to benefit from its North-East move include Gateshead-based Petards, which will supply passenger counting systems and driver reminder safety switches, and Nomad Digital, of Newcastle, which will make on-board servers.
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