Hitachi Rail Europe Ltd has announced plans to build a new manufacturing plant in the north-east of England.

The company stated that contractor Shepherd will be responsible for bringing the Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, facility to fruition. The deal is worth £82 million and represents a significant investment into the UK's rail and train network. Hitachi is also creating a huge boost to employment in the region with 150 jobs due to be generated during the building work which is expected to start later in the year.

Vince Cable, secretary of state for business, innovation and skills, and Patrick McLoughlin, secretary of state for transport, were on site in Newton Aycliffe to herald the appointment of Shepherd. It marks a huge step forward for the north-east as train building has long been associated with the region and the return of the trade is a real boost for workers.

Once the factory is completed, a date has been earmarked for 2016, Hitachi Rail Europe will work on the first of its contracts. The company is looking to create a fleet of 122 Class 800 series trains for the East Coast Main Line and the Great Western Main Line forming part of the Intercity Express Programme. It will work alongside developer Merchant Place Developments to help fulfill this commitment.

Alistair Dormer, executive chairman and chief executive officer of Hitachi Rail Europe, said: "We want to establish Hitachi Rail Europe as a key British manufacturer of trains and this new factory is a huge step towards doing that. In just 18 months, what stands today as an empty field will become home to a state-of the-art facility, manufacturing trains for Europe and the UK."

The UK government has been increasing its commitment to improving the nation's rail network and has moved forward with plans to create a new high speed rail line. The HS2 will help to significantly reduce journey times between London and the north of England.

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