The final link between Hitachi Rail Europe’s £82m Newton Aycliffe manufacturing site and the national rail network has been laid in place.
The last Pandrol Clip, a type of rail fastening which is used to connect rails to railway sleepers, was turned this week.
It was the last of 35,000 such fixings installed by Story Contracting which connects the new facility with the national network, as well as 7,000 metres of sidings and a 1km long overhead electrified test track.
Work will now concentrate on the fit-out of the factory which will deliver the next generation of high speed rail carriages to the UK and Europe.
Phil Verster, route managing director at Network Rail said: “Today’s final fixing signals an important milestone in this exciting project. The Intercity Express Train will bring a step-change for passengers, enabling more and faster journeys. This facility is an achievement in itself and will continue to bring economic benefits to the north east as well as maintaining the region’s proud rail heritage.
“I would like to thank Merchant Place Developments, Story Contracting and the many suppliers for all the hard work they’ve put in to reach this stage. Work to finish the signalling and power will complete later this year.”
Once completed, the facility will serve as a Hitachi Rail Europe facility for train manufacturing and assembly. It will be the base for the construction of the new Great Western Main Line and East Coast Main Line trains the company is building for the Government’s Intercity Express Programme (IEP), as well as the new AT200 trains for Abellio’s ScotRail franchise.
Rail Minister Claire Perry added: “We are investing record amounts in our railways as part of our long-term economic plan. Connecting the Hitachi train facility at Newton Aycliffe to the track is a key step in roll out of the InterCity Express programme, which will create hundreds of jobs locally and thousands more across the UK supply chain.
“The trains made here will transform passengers’ journeys in the south west and north, with more seats on each train, more services, reduced journey times and improved reliability.”