A NORTH-EAST train builder will spearhead the industry’s future after securing a lucrative Scottish deal, it was tonight claimed.

Hitachi Rail Europe will supply 70 engines and 234 carriages to operator Abellio.

The 100mph next generation commuter trains will be built at Hitachi’s £82m factory, in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, which is due to open in 2016, supporting 730 skilled jobs.

Sedgefield MP Phil Wilson told The Northern Echo the work was proof the industry has real confidence in the Japanese firm, as it returns train building back to the birthplace of the railways.

The Scottish contract further strengthens the company’s order book, which already includes an agreement to provide Class 800 and 801 trains for the Government’s Intercity Express Programme (IEP).

That deal will modernise the UK's ageing 40-year-old high-speed fleet, with Great Western Main Line services, running via Bristol to south Wales, starting in 2017, and East Coast Main Line trains running the following year.

Mr Wilson, who played a key role in persuading Hitachi to invest £82m in the North-East, said: “This is more excellent news for Hitachi and for Newton Aycliffe.

“This just goes to prove the firm is more than just the IEP, and shows the industry has real confidence in them.

“It will help secure the 730 jobs at the new factory and promote the new commuter train the company has developed.

“I understand commuter trains like these are going to be the bread and butter of train manufacturing going forward, so for Hitachi to get a foothold in that market is great.

“I want to see more successful contracts come Aycliffe’s way.”

The rolling stock, known as AT200s, will run from 2017 on electrified lines between Edinburgh and Glasgow, as well as routes covering Stirling, Alloa and Dunblane.

Andy Barr, Hitachi Rail Europe’s chief operating officer, added: “We are delighted Abellio has selected us as preferred bidder to supply rolling stock as well as long-term maintenance of our electric trains.

“This is great news, as it is the first contract for our recently launched AT200 train.

“The trains will be built at Newton Aycliffe and will complement the Class 800 and 801 trains while boosting North-East jobs and growth.”

Abellio will start running the £6bn ScotRail franchise in April next year when it takes over from FirstGroup.

Aberdeen-based FirstGroup has run most Scottish rail services for the last ten years.

A spokesman added: “The new fleet proposal was a major feature in our winning bid, and we look forward now to continuing negotiations with our preferred supplier Hitachi.”