Live updates

Hitachi train factory 'on track' to open in 2015

The construction of a train factory in County Durham, where hundreds of new train carriages will be built for Intercity and ScotRail contracts, is on target to be completed later this year.

Hundreds of train carriages will be built at the site in Newton Aycliffe

More than 700 people will work at the plant in Newton Aycliffe, where hundreds of new train carriages will be built.

Today the final part of the track will be installed, connecting the factory to the rail network for the first time.

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Family pay tribute to Newton Aycliffe man after fatal crash

Shane Smith

The family of a man who died when his car left the road and crashed in Bishop Auckland have paid tribute to him.

Shane Smith, 25, died when his blue Audi car crashed through a fence on Close House, Bishop Auckland, on January 10.

He suffered serious injuries and died at the scene.

Yesterday, his family paid tribute to Shane, from Newton Aycliffe.

"We are all devastated by the loss of our Shane. He was a gentle giant with a heart of gold.

"As a family our lives will never be the same as we will always have this awful emptiness. He should be here, cracking jokes as he always did. If there are any witnesses to this accident please contact the police. We need to know why it occurred and why our beautiful, happy, smiling Shane has been taken too young. RIP Shane, we love you to pieces and words cannot describe how much we will miss you."

– Family statement

Skills shortage "means Hitachi will recruit from Nissan"

A government advisor warned that a shortage of skilled workers in the North East of England means the train company Hitachi will have to recruit staff from nearby car manufacturer Nissan.

A Hitachi javelin train Credit: Gareth Fuller/PA

The warning was issued by Jim O'Neill, a former senior banker who is now advising the government on how to grow the UK's cities.

Hitachi will create thousands of jobs at its factory in Newton Aycliffe. But there are fears that it will only be able to fill those vacancies by taking staff from the Nissan plant in Sunderland.

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Government blames local enterprise partnership for MPs row

The Government has said it was the responsibility of the North East local enterprise partnership to notify an MP of an official visit to his constituency.

Sedgefield MP Phil Wilson accused Stockton South's James Wharton of visiting Mr Wilson's constituency without informing him first. The Stockton South MP said he was only 'dropping off' Local Government Minister Brandon Lewis, and denies taking part in an official visit.

A spokesperson for the Department for Communities and Local Government said:

“The visit was hosted by the North East local enterprise partnership who secured £289.3million from the Government’s Local Growth Fund to support economic growth in the area.

“As part of organising that event the local enterprise partnership agreed to make all local MPs aware of the minister’s visit.”

– Spokesman, Department for Communities and Local Government

Woman flown to hospital after being hit by a car in Newton Aycliffe

The 62-year-old woman was hit by a car in Newton Aycliffe. Credit: Great North Air Ambulance Service

A woman has been flown to hospital after being hit by a car in Newton Aycliffe earlier today (Friday 20 June).

The 62-year-old woman sustained serious injuries to her head, chest and stomach. She was flown by helicopter to the James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough.

Hitachi site using 400 on-site workers a day

The construction of Hitachi's new train-building factory in County Durham has created more jobs that first expected.

Up to 400 workers a day have been employed on-site, rather than the anticipated 200. Most of them are from the North East. The factory, in Newton Aycliffe, is expected to open next year.

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