Hitachi will launch its first Intercity Express train built at its manufacturing plant in County Durham.
On December 9, Hitachi Rail Europe (HRE) will open its doors to viewing and boarding the first of the British-built new Intercity Express (IEP) trains, and see trains being built at the facility.
Hitachi will be joined by the Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling, Minister for Northern Powerhouse, Andrew Percy, and Ambassador of Japan in the UK, Koji Tsuruoka.
Attendees will witness first-hand the engineering skills that Hitachi is investing in, and will also meet with members of the team working on IEP, including some of the 50 apprentices employed at Newton Aycliffe.
Hitachi Rail Europe opened its £82m facility in Newton Aycliffe in September 2015 as part of its ambition to develop a hub of industry and innovation in the North East, and today, December 8 will give the opportunity to view and board the first of the British-built new Intercity Express (IEP) trains and see trains being built at the facility.
The first train leaving HRE’s UK production line marks a major milestone ahead of the introduction of IEP, the £5.7bn Government-funded programme to modernise UK intercity travel.
By the end of the programme, HRE will have supplied 122 modern intercity trains for passengers travelling on the Great Western and East Coast main lines, offering vastly improved levels of capacity, reliability and comfort.
Managing director of Hitachi Rail Europe, Karen Boswell said:
“Today is a celebration of the return of train manufacturing to the North East, supporting thousands of jobs and developing a strong engineering skills base in the region. Trains running across the country’s rail network will be built by a proud workforce harnessing the best of Hitachi’s long standing rail expertise. The company that built the world famous bullet trains is now building the next generation of UK trains, which will deliver a step change in intercity travel, offering more capacity, greater comfort and a lower carbon footprint."
Managing Director of Virgin Trains East Coast, David Horne said:
“It’s a great privilege to be given a tour of these new facilities which will provide a big economic boost for the North East. This factory will also start producing our new Azuma trains in 2017 and we're looking forward to them entering service and transforming the experience on the east coast."
Kentaro Masai, vice president and executive officer, chief operating officer, Railway Systems Business Unit, Hitachi, Ltd, said:
“It is my greatest pleasure to be here today to celebrate the completion of the first Hitachi IEP train manufactured in the UK. It was 90 years ago in 1926 that a senior Hitachi engineer first visited the North of England to study the leading edge railway technology of the time. Today, we have a modern intercity train built in the North East by combining the best of Japanese technology delivered with the best of British manufacturing.
However, Mick Cash from the RMT union fears a 'halfway house' developing. He explains that most of the train is manufactured elsewhere, while he would like to see the entire train manufactured in the UK.