Phil joined Hitachi Rail Europe and its UK suppliers at the official opening of Hitachi’s new £82 million Rail Vehicle Manufacturing Facility in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham yesterday to celebrate the return of rail manufacturing to its British birthplace.
Phil personally watched the unveiling of the first fully fitted-out InterCity Express Programme (IEP) train to arrive in the UK, with the full order of trains in the programme to be manufactured in the newly opened Newton Aycliffe facility. The first of these trains will run on the Great Western Main Line from 2017 and the East Coast Main Line from 2018, replacing the current 40-year-old trains in service. The facility will also be the manufacturing base for Hitachi’s AT200 trains for the Scotrail Abelio Franchise.
More than 30 UK-based businesses are supplying parts, systems and services for the IEP trains. Of those components and operations that Hitachi could have sourced from the UK for the new trains, 72 per cent have been purchased from UK-based businesses.
"It's a dream come true. I remember when this was an empty field. This goes back to 2008-2009, when Hitachi first came to see me and said they wanted to build their factory here.
"After the election there were a lot of cutbacks and we had to campaign for this. We rallied businesses, Durham County Council, One North East as it was then, and we put a campaign together to convince the government of the economic case.
"We've now got this iconic building, building iconic trains in a iconic area, bringing train building full circle, back to where George Stephenson assembled Locomotion Number One at Heighington Crossing just 500 yards from here 190 years ago.
"Part of the Locomotion pub is the original ticket office and waiting room, so it's probably the oldest ticket office and waiting room in the world!
"To think it has come full circle, to this day where they'll be building the most sophisticated trains for the 21st Century, right here in Newton Aycliffe is fantastic.
"It's great and I'm really proud of what has been achieved - a lot of work by a lot of people - and it's a very proud day for me as Sedgefield MP.
"We've also got the building of the UTC starting next week, where we'll be training the future engineers and giving local young people the skills to come and work here and at other companies.
"Because it's not just about Hitachi. We have Gestamp Tallent, 3M, PWS, Ebac and lots of others doing fantastic work.
"It's just another sign that Aycliffe Business Park is going really places."