Hitachi Rail Europe has further cemented its commitment to the North East by setting up its design office within the region.
The firm has celebrated the completion of the building envelope of its manufacturing facility in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, in a special ceremony hosted by managing director Keith Jordan and the two firms involved in the factory’s construction, Merchant Place Developments and Shepherd.
The topping out ceremony marks a significant milestone in the factory development, which started in November 2013 and is expected to be completed by mid-2015.
Work can now concentrate on the interior fit-out of the facility, which has already started.
During the event, Keith Jordan announced that Hitachi Rail Europe had also decided to establish its UK design office in the new facility.
Keith Jordan, managing director of Hitachi Rail Europe, said: “Today’s topping out ceremony signifies a milestone in the construction of our vehicle manufacturing facility in Newton Aycliffe.
“This is no longer just a concept – everybody can see for themselves the sheer scale of the site that will act as the hub for our rail manufacturing work in the UK and across Europe.
“With the establishment of our design division, we further enhance professional opportunities and our commitment here in Newton Aycliffe and the North East of England.
“This will be our UK and European rail centre, where we design and build trains for Great Britain and the rest of Europe.”
“I would like to thank Merchant Place Developments, Shepherd Construction, Network Rail and the many suppliers for all the hard work they’ve put in over the last year to reach this stage, and am now looking forward to the final completion in 2015.”
Rail Minister Claire Perry MP said: “We are investing record amounts in transforming our railways over the next five years as part of our long-term economic plan, including the delivery of 122 Intercity Express trains to run on the Great Western and East Coast main line routes.
“The new trains will be assembled in Britain at the state-of-the-art factory in Newton Aycliffe and will play a key part in transforming travel for thousands of passengers on some of our busiest rail lines.
“The new factory at Newton Aycliffe will benefit the North East’s economy for years to come, creating hundreds of jobs and apprenticeships and showcasing the fusion of British and Japanese engineering excellence. It is great to see railway industry jobs returning to the North East, home of the Stockton-Darlington line where Britain’s railway journey began.”
Following the ceremony guests were invited inside the facility and given an overview of the progress made so far in the construction process.
Each of the hosts of the event was then presented with a ceremonial trowel to mark the occasion