HITACHI faces a tough fight to grab the lucrative contract to build new high-speed trains, the Transport Secretary said.

Patrick McLoughlin told MPs that many companies could be expected to bid for the deal to provide the rolling stock for the £42.6bn HS2 project.

Hitachi has stated its intention to pitch for the contract, promising the trains would be built at its factory under construction in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham.

Answering transport questions, Mr McLoughlin said: “I very much welcome the Hitachi foreign investment into the North-East and its decision to base its world headquarters here in London.

“It is a great sign of confidence in the way that the Government are attracting inward investment into this country.”

On HS2, he added: “There will of course be a competition and I have no doubt that it will be matched by Bombardier and other companies.”

Canadian-owned Bombardier, which has facilities in Derby and Germany, recently won a £1bn Crossrail contract for 65 trains on the London line.

The Transport Secretary was responding to a question from Phil Wilson, whose Sedgefield constituency includes the Hitachi factory.

The Labour MP said: “There is great potential for the rolling stock for High Speed 2 to be built by Hitachi in my constituency, creating hundreds of direct jobs and thousands in the supply chain.

“Is he aware that Hitachi built the original bullet train almost 50 years ago?”

The first stretch of HS2, between London and Birmingham, is not due to be completed until 2026, making a decision on the train contract several years away.

Trains will run at 225mph to south of York, switching to conventional tracks to serve Darlington, Durham City, Newcastle and York, but not until 2033.