HITACHI is recruiting workers at the rate of about five every week as it gears up for the grand opening of its 700 jobs train factory later this year.

The Newton Aycliffe company, which now has almost 60 staff on its books, said reaction to the two job fairs it hosted last month at the Xcel Centre had been “overwhelming” and bosses were delighted by the calibre of local people who have applied for 200 positions that range from quality systems engineers to human resources professionals.

The firm estimates there are about 13 applicants vying for each position.

Jacquie Smith, senior HR advisor, has been busy creating job adverts, reviewing applications and interviewing candidates. She said: "I think we’ve achieved a huge amount as a team in a short space of time. We’ve filled multiple vacancies and hired some fantastic people, who are already making a massive impact in their functions. We’ve also made some great links with the wider community and it’s exciting to see the potential for our future employees to make a big difference.

"I have been offered training aimed at supporting female employees increase their presence and impact. This was fantastic - I learned a lot about my personal communication style and how I can utilise it more effectively. If you are looking for challenging and rewarding careers, Hitachi Rail Europe is the right place to be."

Work to complete the £82m factory and test track is on schedule, Darlington-based construction firm Shepherd told The Northern Echo, and September 3 has been pencilled in for the official opening ceremony of the factory that will make high speed trains for the East Coast and Great Western Lines, and commuter trains for Scotland.

Workers have begun to install huge turntables that will be used to shift trains into position both inside and outside the plant, and the track that links the factory with the national rail network is due to be finished later this month.

"We are registering one major landmark after another, these are really exciting times," said Darren Cumner, plant manager.