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Schoolchildren visit Hitachi train plant

Hitachi plant under construction Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

Shepherd, the company building Hitachi's new train-making factory in County Durham is showing schoolchildren around on Friday.

The site, at Newton Aycliffe, is still under construction, and today's event is designed to inspire youngsters to consider a career in construction.

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Tonight's Around The House

Around The House, tonight at 10.40pm on ITV. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

Our political correspondent Paul Brand is joined by four new election candidates for a lively debate on immigration and the economy.

Paul Brand and guests (l to r): Lib Dem Julie Pörksen (on screen), Tory Will Goodhand, Lee Sherriff (Labour) and Phillip Broughton (UKIP) Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

Around The House is on ITV tonight (Thursday 5 March) at 10.40pm.

Richard Branson: commuters should not be worried about rising rail fares

Sir Richard Branson says rail commuters in the region should not be concerned about rising prices on the East Coast mainline.

Speaking on a visit to Newcastle this lunchtime he told ITV Tyne Tees that concerns about lack of competition and increases in fares were unfounded.

Virgin Rail and Stagecoach took over the running of the East Coast Franchise this week. They already run services on the West Coast line. There have been concerns from the Competition and Marketing Authority about lack of competition in some areas driving prices up.

Pictures: Richard Branson visits Newcastle

Tycoon Sir Richard Branson is in Newcastle to inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs.

The owner of the Virgin business empire is at an event for young people at the Northern Stage theatre.

It comes just two days after a consortium involving Virgin took over train services on the East Coast mainline.

Sir Richard Branson in Newcastle Credit: ITV

It is three years since Virgin Money took over Northern Rock, the failed Newcastle-based bank.

Sir Richard with Brian Souter Credit: ITV

Sir Richard Branson amused the press when he pointing out that Stagecoach co-founder Brian Souter usually wears red trainers and that he had worn his to match.

Joking around on stage Credit: ITV
Virgin Start-Up event Credit: ITV

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Richard Branson looking to inspire North East young

Richard Branson. Credit: PA

Tycoon Sir Richard Branson will be in Newcastle later to try and inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs.

The owner of the Virgin business empire will be attending an event for young people at the Northern Stage theatre.

It comes just two days after a consortium involving Virgin took over train services on the East Coast mainline.

It is three years since Virgin Money took over Northern Rock, the failed Newcastle-based bank.

East Coast: 'Best deal for passengers"

The East Coast rail line becomes privately run from today after more than five years in the public sector.

The route which links London with Edinburgh has been operated by the Department for Transport since 2009. But it has now been jointly taken over by Virgin and Stagecoach.

Protests were held yesterday by the RMT union, which has described the handover as an "act of gross national betrayal of the British people".

A Department for Transport spokesman said they were confident that the new East Coast franchise gave the best deal for passengers - providing more seats, more services, new trains and over £140 million of investment along the route.

The skills and experience that the private sector provides drives forward innovation and investment, and has helped to transform our rail network into a real success story.

– – DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORT SPOKESMAN

Shadow Transport Secretary Michael Dugher said the ending of the state-run East Coast company was "a hammer blow for passengers, taxpayers and employees alike".

David Cameron's ideological sell-off has ended a public sector service which has delivered over £1 billion to the Treasury, kept fares down, had record passenger satisfaction and engaged the workforce with unparalleled success. It is clear that when it comes to transport, people have a straight choice - the status quo or Labour's better plan. Labour will start the process of legislating in the first 100 days of a new parliament to allow a public sector operator to be able to take on lines and challenge the private sector on a genuinely level playing field.

– – SHADOW TRANSPORT SECRETARY MICHAEL DUGHER
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