HITACHI has unveiled plans to win a second contract for its North-East train-building factory – securing its future for at least 20 years.

The company will bid to design and maintain the fleet that will run on the planned £34bn high-speed line (HS2) between London and Birmingham and, eventually, the North.

The trains would be built at the factory to open next year in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, creating 500 jobs, plus thousands more in manufacturing and service supply chains.

The work is likely to start at the end of the decade – just as the contract for the £4.5bn Intercity Express Programme (IEP) is winding down.

Hitachi would either deliver a newer version of the Class 395 trains, which run between the capital and the Channel Tunnel, or build a new train – a four-year project, for delivery in 2025.

Sedgefield MP Phil Wilson hailed the decision, and said: “This shows Hitachi’s longterm commitment to the UK and the North-East.

“Hitachi is well-placed to build the high-speed trains because of the practical expertise in this area. The fact Hitachi would also transfer key skills, knowledge and technology to the North-East further proves the confidence they have in our workforce.”

Transport Secretary Phil Hammond gave the Hitachi bid an immediate boost.

He said: “I have already said that I hope the trains for our proposed high-speed rail network will be built in this country.

“Clearly, the factory at Newton Aycliffe would be in a good position to challenge for the contract.”

The bid for HS2 was revealed by Alistair Dormer, Agility’s chief executive, in an email to Mr Wilson.

He wrote: “Hitachi has more than 40 years’ experience in the design and manufacture of high-speed trains, including the world famous bullet train, for both Japan and other markets in Asia.

“The Hitachi Javelin trains are the fastest trains in Britain and we have the experience of operating on HS1, delivering exceptional levels of reliability and passenger satisfaction.”

Mr Hammond has vowed to force through the HS2 project in the face of growing opposition from Conservative voters along the route, particularly in the Chilterns, Buckinghamshire.

Under IEP, the Hitachi-led Agility consortium will deliver at least 530 rail carriages, bringing faster, more reliable journeys – and 11,000 extra seats – on key inter-city routes.

The factory – dubbed the new Nissan – will open in 2013, reaching full capacity in 2014.

The first “bi-mode”, diesel and electric trains will be delivered three years later, with all 100 on stream by 2019.