We look at five big trains deals that are crucial to the future of the North East economy, as Siemens begins the production line at Hebburn.
1. Hitachi seals £2.7 billion funding to build high-speed trains at Newton Aycliffe.
In April 2014 the Japanese conglomerate secured Government funding to build nearly 500 high-speed trains between London and Edinburgh. The move confirmed 730 jobs will be created once the plant is operational. Hitachi is also building 369 carriages to run on the Great Western line from 2017, using funding from an earlier agreement. Alistair Dormer, Hitachi’s UK-based global rail chief executive, said at the time the programme was a milestone in bringing manufacturing to County Durham.
2. NCG announce multi-million pound rail academy for Gateshead.
NCG (formerly Newcastle College Group) revealed plans for their multi-million pound rail academy to be established in Gateshead, in conjunction with the National Skills Academy for Railway Engineering (NSARE) and Network Rail. The centre will equip youngsters and those changing careers with a range of rail-related skills to supply Government plans to upgrade the national rail infrastructure in the next 30 years and the implementation of high-speed rail.
At the time Robin Ghurbhurun, deputy principal at Newcastle College said: “There are incredible changes taking place in the rail sector and our investment in the Rail Academy will help to put the region on the map in terms of world-class training and skills for the railway engineering sector.
“NCG have made a significant commitment in what we believe to be a fantastic development for Gateshead and a centre of excellence for rail engineering across the country. It will be a hub for the North East and a first for the region in terms of rail engineering.”
3. Arriva miss out on Crossrail contract
Sunderland-headquartered Arriva recently missed out on a lucrative contract to operate London’s Crossrail services to Hong Kong firm MTR Corporation - who will run the services for the next eight years. Arriva voiced its disappointment at losing the bid, but says it remains determined to explore rail markets.
4. Could the North East become isolated by High Speed Rail?
Concerns about the impact of the Government’s £42 billion High Speed Rail project were raised in The Journal recently. Consultation documents published by HS2 and Network Rail showed journey times to Scotland could actually increase; fewer services would operate from stations such as Durham and Darlington and total journey times to London would only be reduced by 11 minutes.