A TRAINBUILDER will make 125mph rolling stock to connect the North-East with Manchester and Scotland.

Hitachi Rail Europe says it will deliver 95 carriages for FirstGroup’s TransPennine Express franchise.

Bosses say the majority will be built at Hitachi’s £82m factory in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, with the first trains expected to begin operations in late 2019.

The contract represents another boost for the Japanese company’s order book, which already includes agreements to provide stock for the Great Western and East Coast lines, as well as routes in Scotland.

It is also the first to be finalised by FirstGroup as it begins operating its new-look TransPennine Express franchise agreement today (Friday, April 1), which links the North-East with Leeds, Manchester, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Karen Boswell, Hitachi Rail Europe’s managing director, said: “We are thrilled to be delivering a fleet of new Inter City trains, connecting cities and people with greater speed, comfort and capacity across the North.

“Last September, we brought rail manufacturing back to its birthplace in the North-East, so it is entirely fitting our Newton Aycliffe facility is where these new trains will be built.

“Building on our contracts to deliver new trains for the East Coast and Great Western Main Lines and commuter trains for Scotland, we are on track to transform rail travel for millions of customers throughout the UK.”

Leo Goodwin, TransPennine Express managing director designate, said the deal will give the new franchise a perfect start.

He added: “These trains will lead to significant improvements in seating, capacity and provide a more reliable and efficient service.

“They will be able to run at 125 miles per hour, but have the capability of running at 140 miles per hour if the network allows it in the future.

“Hitachi is a reliable train manufacturer with a great reputation and we are very pleased to be working together on these trains, which will help better connect the North and Scotland.”

Mr Goodwin added the deal, financed by Angel Trains, includes 19 five-car AT300 Hitachi models, which are capable of running on electric and diesel power.

He said TransPennine Express will lease the carriages from Angel Trains, with a separate agreement for another 25 trains expected to be finalised in the coming weeks ahead of use in 2018.