FUNDING has finally been secured to make new high-speed trains for the line linking the North-East with London and Scotland in a North-East factory. 

The Government has confirmed that a total of 497 carriages for the East Coast line will be built at Hitachi Rail Europe's plant in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, creating at least 730 jobs.

The Class 800 trains will start running on the East Coast line in 2018. Hitachi is also building 369 carriages to run on the Great Western line from 2017 under a funding agreement reached in 2012. The Aycliffe factory will begin production in 2016. 

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Today's announcement finally paves the way for the long-running Intercity Express Programme (IEP) saga to reach a conclusion. It was as far back as February 2009 that the Labour government announced that Hitachi-led consortium Agility Trains was the preferred bidder for the IEP.

But a series of difficulties meant that the final contract-award decision was delayed for some time.

The contract to deliver the carriages has been agreed with Agility Trains, a consortium of Hitachi Rail Europe and John Laing.

As well as building the new plant at Newton Aycliffe, Hitachi will construct maintenance depots at sites including Bristol and Doncaster, and is refurbishing and upgrading depots across the Great Western and East Coast lines.

The Northern Echo:

CGI of Hitachi factory in Newton Aycliffe

Hitachi recently announced its plans to move its global rail headquarters from Japan to London, further underlining the confidence in the UK economy and rail market.

Alistair Dormer, Hitachi Rail global chief executive, said: “This is an important milestone in the delivery of Class 800 series trains for the East Coast Main Line.

"Hitachi Rail has been working closely with the Department for Transport, train operators and passenger groups to design the new trains. We are delighted that the success of the programme to date has attracted interest by world-class financiers and we look forward to building these trains in our new manufacturing plant in County Durham.”

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: "We are building a world-class rail system and the IEP is a key part of that.

"These new trains will transform rail travel between many of the great towns and cities of England and Scotland. This deal is further proof that our long-term economic plans are on track, creating jobs and breathing new life into the UKs train-building industry."