The next generation of high speed trains could be built in the North East after Hitachi confirmed it was interested in bidding for the contract.
The government has announced plans to build high speed lines from Birmingham to Manchester and Leeds. Trains will continue at a slower speed further north.
Hitachi is building a new factory in Newton Aycliffe to make trains, creating more than 700 jobs.
A spokesman today said the Japanese firm's interest in the high speed contract was "extremely strong." She said high speed rail was an "interesting project" that the new factory would be "well placed" to be part of.