100 jobs created as production of concrete slabs for HS2 tunnels starts in Hartlepool

  • Watch Kris Jepson's report

Production of concrete segments that will be used to build the new high speed railway tunnels in London has started in Teesside.

Following a £50 million investment, the Strabag factory in Hartlepool has employed 100 new workers to help produce the concrete slabs over the next three years.

Hartlepool MP Jill Mortimer told ITV News Tyne Tees it was "fantastic" the town had been chosen to conduct the work.

She said: "It’s benefiting Hartlepool. I’ve got 100 jobs here and not only that, I’ve got a £50m investment building this amazing factory that’ll not only do HS2. This is going to create jobs for the people who work here, for their children and grandchildren. High skilled jobs."

Hartlepool site with access to rail line Credit: ITV News

The HS2 route, which will link London, the Midlands and North of England stops short of actually operating in the North East.

When challenged about the benefits the HS2 project will bring to the region, Ms Mortimer responded: "Well anything that benefits the country, benefits all of us, doesn’t it? And we should always look at the positive of everything. Stop playing on the negative. We need to talk Hartlepool up. This is a fantastic new facility here."

Chris Davison was unemployed for more than a year when he landed a job on the site. He is a machine operator in the factory now and works with innovative robots that cut the time of manual welding by half. He said it has improved his fortunes.

He said: "It’s been amazing for me so far. I’ve had a promotion. I’ve had my land licence out of them. It’s going really well... Obviously it’s going to have a massive impact on the full country isn’t it? So yeh just looking forward to getting up and going and seeing how it turns out."

First concrete segment on conveyor belt Credit: ITV News

The Hartlepool site was chosen by HS2 bosses because of the infrastructure in place, with a port next door and a disused rail line which has been brought back into use by the project.

Each train load of concrete delivered by rail to London will be the equivalent of 40 lorry loads.

Andy Dixon, managing director of Strabag, said: "We don’t want to be transporting products that we manufacture on the road unless we absolutely have to, so the rail head made a huge difference. The infrastructure links are fantastic as part of Hartlepool. Also having a workforce that we can recruit and train locally was really, really important to us."

Ruth Todd, the chief commercial officer of HS2 Ltd, added: "The segments are going to sit under London clay, therefore they have to be completely consistent. The engineering of those tunnels is dependent on the work that goes on in this factory and that means Hartlepool is perfectly placed to serve the programme."

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