A TRAINBUILDER is well placed to secure a £2.75bn high-speed rail deal, it was last night claimed.

Hitachi Rail Europe yesterday revealed it will bid for a contract to make 225mph rolling stock for HS2.

Confirmation of the plan comes months after managing director Karen Boswell told The Northern Echo the firm was eyeing work on the link.

Last night, Sedgefield MP Phil Wilson said he believes the company, based in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, can succeed, highlighting its back catalogue of high-speed projects that includes trains for the Tokaido Shinkansen line, which began service ahead of the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

Up to 60 trains will be needed to transport passengers on HS2, with the contract expected to be awarded in 2019.

The first phase of HS2 could open in late 2026.

Mr Wilson, who endeavoured to unite both sides of the political divide in a campaign, supported by local MPs, Durham County Council and industry, to bring Hitachi to the region, also said the prospect of HS2 work could deliver more jobs to the company’s Aycliffe base.

He said: “This is really good news and Hitachi is well placed to bid for it – they have 50 years of building high-speed trains.

“Its sister company in Italy has also built high-speed trains in that country.

“They have got a good track record and a factory in Newton Aycliffe where they could be prepared to invest more into.”

Nick Hughes, Hitachi’s sales director, reiterated its pedigree and the importance of its North- East plant, which has seen the company return train manufacturing to the cradle of the railways.

He added: “Our HS2 trains would be built in Britain and combine Shinkansen technology with British manufacturing.”

Hitachi’s Aycliffe plant is already overseeing work on rolling stock for the East Coast and Great Western routes under the Government’s InterCity Express Programme (IEP).

It is also making three and four-car trains for the ScotRail franchise, with the 100mph commuter trains, known as Class 385s, due to run from late 2017 on electrified lines between Edinburgh and Glasgow, as well as routes covering Stirling, Alloa and Dunblane.

Speaking last year, Karen Boswell, managing director, told the Echo HS2 was firmly on the firm’s radar.

She also confirmed it was interested in making new carriages for the London underground, an interest that has subsequently yielded a joint venture bid alongside fellow manufacturer Bombardier.

Ms Boswell, who was formerly managing director at East Coast Trains, added: “There are opportunities out there for HS2, the new Tube for London scheme and Europe.

“Why would you not want these trains made in the UK?

“The people in the North-East are absolutely dedicated to producing top-quality trains.

“Train manufacturing contracts are long-term relationships and the IEP deals started us off.”

In December, Hitachi held a ceremony at its Aycliffe site to celebrate the launch of its maiden IEP stock.

Construction work on phase one of HS2, from London to Birmingham, could get underway in the spring.

Any start would be subject to its parliamentary bill getting royal assent.