AN engineering firm says it has created 300 North-East jobs after starting work on train control equipment for a £6.5bn transport scheme.

Siemens is making components for Class 700 electric trains, which will run on the Thameslink programme.

The company, in Hebburn, South Tyneside, will deliver parts for more than 1,100 carriages, including cable harnesses, drivers’ instruments and control desks, ceiling containers and electrical cabinets.

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The work is expected to take up to four years.

The rolling stock project is part of the Government’s £6.5bn plan to transform travel through London.

The first trains are expected to run on the Thameslink North-South route between Bedford and Brighton from 2016, providing more frequent and reliable connections to the capital.

Siemens bosses say the work will support up to 2,000 jobs across the UK.

The start of work was hailed by Transport Minister Baroness Kramer, who visited the factory alongside South Tyneside Borough Council chief executive Martin Swales, and Mayor of South Tyneside, Councillor Fay Cunningham.

Baroness Kramer said: “The North-East is a real hub of rail industry expertise.

“Through our investment in Thameslink, we are boosting that industry, creating hundreds of jobs and building skills for the future.”

Des Young, Siemens’ Hebburn asset services director, added: “This is an important day for this site and the North-East more widely.

“Thameslink isn’t just connecting London to the rest of the country; it’s creating and protecting high tech jobs in the region.

“We hope Thameslink is just the beginning of specialist manufacturing at Hebburn, and are confident this work will show the region has the skills, capacity and facilities to support major rail projects.”