The Hitachi leader instrumental in bringing the plant to Newton Aycliffe has spoken of his pride at its achievements.

Executive vice president energy and mobility Alistair Dormer, who oversaw the opening of the company’s factory in 2015, said it was an important part of the Hitachi global village, with its fortunes followed closely by people in Japan.

He spoke as he called for government action to help secure the future of the plant and its 750 workers, as it faces an order crisis.Alistair Dormer, Hitachi executive vice president energy and mobilityAlistair Dormer, Hitachi executive vice president energy and mobility (Image: Hitachi)

Mr Dormer said the primary consideration in choosing Newton Aycliffe as the site for the plant was the people.

He said: “There are some things like logistics – it’s close to a port, close the A1, connected to the railway - those are some of the factors that were built into it. But there were a number of other sites that were exactly the same.

“It was actually a lot of the work that was done by One North East, by (former MP) Phil Wilson by The Northern Echo and by the people who said we really want you here.(Image: Avanti West Coast)

“We felt that we were really welcome and we have ever since. And I think that's the special bond.

“And being next to the Darlington Stockton Railway was a big cherry on the cake.”

He added: “What I didn’t realise back then, and this is still absolutely true today, is that Japan is so passionate about trains.

“They are so proud of their Bullet trains and how their railway works like clockwork.

“So when we announced those years ago that will be going to build a new factory for Hitachi alongside the Stockton Darlington railway, which had that connection with the birth of the railways, we were front page news in Japan. We became quite famous beyond our imagination at the time.Avanti launches new Hitachi-built Evero fleet Avanti launches new Hitachi-built Evero fleet (Image: Avanti West Coast)

“So it's still a very live and well-known fact that Hitachi builds trains over here – the fact that a new train for Avanti went into service on Sunday is news in Japan.”

The factory was a symbol of Japanese inward investment into the North East – building on previous investment of Nissan in the 90s, he added.

Another component was sponsoring the UTC to build the skills of the future.

Mr Dormer said: “We spend much money in the supply chain and support businesses in the North East. I may be a bit biased but Hitachi is the jewel of the crown of the North East.(Image: Newsquest)

“We’re working really hard and we’re very proud of the workers and their skills and proud of what they’ve achieved in delivering thousands of rail vehicles from this factory since it opened.

“We have achieved a hell of a lot and we want them to know we want to retain them and are working really hard to solve the problem.”

Mr Dormer said he would encourage young people to consider a career in the industry.

“We want bright young people here with a bright future. We want more apprentices.

“That is why hooked up with UTC right at the start, because we have got to build skills. That was one of the things that we were really keen on when we invested here.(Image: Northern Echo)

“The heritage of the North East and manufacturing is there for everybody to see and read about.

“But we didn't want the bright young people of the North East to, once they leave school or university, to migrate elsewhere.

“We want to keep them here. They want to stay here but they need good quality jobs - well-paid jobs with good career prospects and I think that’s what we’ve been able to do here.”

Mr Dormer said by joining Hitachi in Aycliffe, people were part of 300,000 employees globally, giving them a gateway to the world.(Image: Hitachi)

He said: “When I joined Hitachi 21 years ago I didn’t think for one minute I would go live in Japan, or that we build this amazing plant.

“I still kick myself sometimes and think what this team has achieved is really incredible.”

Mr Dormer said one of the satisfying things was seeing every day what Hitachi has done.

He said: “I live in Oxfordshire. If I get on the train to go anywhere, it’s a Hitachi train. As I stepped into the door it says Hitachi on the footplate. That is a symbol of what's been achieved here.

Obviously, from an industry point of view we are top of the league.New battery technology developed at Hitachi being testedNew battery technology developed at Hitachi being tested (Image: Hitachi)

“The Lumo trains are the most reliable trains in the UK by some margin. So again that is a testament to the skills and the workmanship and the ability of this plant.

“Not only do we build the most reliable trains in the UK, but we’re delivering innovation with the battery trains.

"The excitement when a new train is out there is fantastic. I’m told that in Euston station on Sunday, there were people standing back and staring at the nice new shining Hitachi train that was coming in (built for Avanti West Coast and is rolling off the production line).

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“We have a great relationship with our customers they are very supportive of us. They know what our capability is.

“Of course, we're always working to improve and get better. and I think just walking around going around the country and seeing our products out there serving the British public is something that I’m really proud of.”