A DECISION over whether the North-East will be the location for a train assembly plant – creating hundreds of jobs – has yet to be made, nearly a year after the original announcement.

The Agility Trains consortium comprising Japanese company Hitachi, John Laing and Barclays, was selected by the Government as the preferred bidder to build a fleet of 1,400 inter-city trains and coaches in February last year.

The Tyne Marshalling Yard, in Lamesley, Gateshead, was chosen as one of five possible sites to assemble the trains.

However, this week, a spokeswoman for Hitachi said it was still in consultation with the Department for Transport (DfT) and had yet to reach an agreement to sign a contract for the “super express” trains.

The spokeswoman said negotiations over the £7.5bn contract were complex and had taken longer than anticipated.

She said an announcement over which site is to be chosen would follow shortly after the signing of the contract.

Up to 500 jobs are to be eventually created at the train assembly factory and overall the deal is expected to secure thousands of jobs in the rail industry.

The new trains – which are due to enter service on the East Coast Main Line from 2013 – will deliver a million extra seats for passengers.

In May, Sir Stephen Gomersall, chief executive of Hitachi Europe, said on a visit to the North-East that the region was “undoubtedly a good place” for Japanese companies to invest.

A DfT spokesman said it remained in negotiations with Agility Trains and hoped to make an announcement later this year.