Durham loses out in £1bn rail contract but job plans will not be derailed

A £83m investment plan by train manufacture Hitachi to bring jobs to County Durham will not be derailed insist the company

A Hitachi train at a station
A Hitachi train at a station

North East train manufacturer Hitachi has said its plans to bring jobs to County Durham will not be derailed after the firm lost out in a bid to build the new Crossrail trains.

A £1bn contract will see Bombardier of Canada building 65 trains for London’s Crossrail project at its plant in Derby, safeguarding hundreds of jobs there.

Prime Minister David Cameron said the announcement was “great news for Bombardier and Derby” while Business Secretary Vince Cable said it was “a real vote of confidence in British manufacturing”.

Hitachi Rail Europe was one of the firms bidding for the contract. The company is set to bring more than 700 jobs to Durham, as part of an £82m development as part of a contract with the Department for Transport to replace an ageing fleet of diesel-powered Intercity trains.

The firm last night said the announcement would not impact on their Durham jobs plans, with Hitachi winning two of the three contracts it has bid for.

Hitachi, which has its headquarters in London, said its proposal was to be built at the firm’s new factory in Newton Aycliffe, in County Durham, which will be building Class 800 series trains for the Great Western and East Coast routes starting next year, employing 730 skilled staff.

Hitachi Rail Europe chief executive Alistair Dormer said: “We are disappointed to have lost out in this bid but this will not stop us making great trains for the British and European market from our factory at Newton Aycliffe.”

With Durham-based work secured until 2020 at least, there were no serious concerns about the failed Bombardier bid yesterday.

Sedgefield MP Phil Wilson, who played a key role in helping bring the factory to the region, said the contract decision will not change the firm’s Durham plans.

He said: “It’s a disappointment certainly, and it obviously would have been nice to have this extra contract. But Hitachi have done well to win other contracts, and they are going to do a great job of bringing in investment to the region, so I don’t think there are any worries here.”

The Crossrail deal will support 760 UK manufacturing jobs and 80 apprenticeships. It involves the construction of a maintenance depot at Old Oak Common in north-west London which will create 244 jobs and 16 apprenticeships. When fully operational it will support 80 jobs to maintain the new fleet of trains.

Each Crossrail train will be 200 metres long and able to carry up to 1,500 passengers. Key features include air conditioning and inter-connecting walk-through carriages. On-train passenger information systems will deliver real-time travel information.

First mooted in the 1990s but then scrapped on cost grounds, only to be revived in the last decade, Crossrail will boost London’s rail capacity by 10%

It will run from Maidenhead in Berkshire, connecting Heathrow, and Abbey Wood in south London, and going as far east as Shenfield in Essex. At peak times, there will be up to 24 trains an hour under central London.

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