A MAJOR investment by Hitachi in its County Durham plant – enabling it to build entire trains – has been welcomed by council leaders.

Hitachi Rail announced last week that it was investing in its state-of-art factory in Newton Aycliffe which will create about 40 new jobs, improve training and benefit the wider business community.

The move will see the launch of new welding and painting facilities so the company can manufacture its signature high-tech aluminium carriage shells on site rather than importing them from overseas.

The facility, which has the contract to build the next generation of intercity trains for East Midlands Railway and Avanti West Coast, will allow Hitachi Rail to expand its regional supply chain and strengthen relationships with suppliers such as Dyer Engineering and Hydram Engineering.

The company's continued commitment to staff, including extensive training programmes and specialist welding qualifications, was also welcomed.

Durham County Council Leader Simon Henig said: “The news that Hitachi is making another substantial investment in Newton Aycliffe demonstrates its commitment to County Durham, its workforce, and the future of its site here.

“The latest announcement, which signals a total £110 million investment in the county by the company, is a significant milestone for the business and for the county.

"It’s a great boost for our local economy at a time when our focus is very much on economic recovery from the impact of the pandemic.

“As well as providing employment for hundreds of local people, the plant supports many more through the 130 businesses that make up its local supply chain.”

Cllr Carl Marshall, Durham County Council’s cabinet member for economic regeneration, said: “We worked hard to attract Hitachi to County Durham against fierce competition from around the country.

"Happily, Hitachi able were to see the vision we had and the fantastic opportunities we are able to offer businesses looking to relocate to the region.

“We have a long and proud tradition of manufacturing and as pioneers of the railway industry, having brand new intercity trains made in County Durham is a fitting reference to the past.

"It also illustrates that we embrace the opportunity to innovate and as a county we have so much to offer.”

Amy Harhoff, the Council’s corporate director of regeneration, economy and growth, said: “Hitachi chose to come to County Durham because we were able to offer a well-connected location and a skilled and highly motivated workforce who are willing to learn, develop and work hard.

“Since their move here, we have supported the business in achieving its ambitions.

“We are rightly proud that Hitachi continues to give our county a vote of confidence with this latest investment in its state-of-the-art facility.

"It shows that we can attract global businesses, that we have much to offer them and, most importantly of all, that we can work with them to support their ambitions to grow and succeed.”

Ross Nagle, chief operating officer at Rolling Stock UK, said: “This investment in Newton Aycliffe increases our capabilities at the site, meaning we can manufacture a range of trains, from metros to high speed, from start to finish.

"The whole team has worked incredibly hard over the last year in challenging circumstances to deliver for our customers and this investment is testament to them.”