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Hitachi Rail Europe

Hitachi has set up a base in Newton Aycliffe for the manufacture of trains for the Intercity Express Programme in the UK and as a European manufacturing centre with a scale of 730 jobs.

Company overview
Hitachi Rail Europe (HRE) is part of the large Japanese, international company Hitachi, which has been manufacturing trains and rail equipment since the early 1900s. Probably best known for the ultra high speed Japanese ‘bullet’ train, Hitachi is now investing heavily in an expansion of its rail business beyond its indigenous Asian market into Europe and beyond. Winning in 2012 a major order to deliver 122 Trains for Intercity Express Project (IEP) in the UK, gave Hitachi the springboard it needed. It has encouraged the company to commit to the construction of a new £82m rail vehicle manufacturing facility here in the UK at Newton Aycliffe in the North East and more recently to move its global rail headquarters to London.
The facility at Newton Aycliffe is designed to deliver up to 60 vehicles per month using a process which uniquely combines both a production line and static work cells. At maximum capacity, the plant will employ 730 staff and there is potential for further expansion of the existing site locally, including the addition of research and development capability as Hitachi steadily fulfils its ambition of global growth.

Why Hitachi chose the NE
The decision was difficult as all shortlisted sites met key criteria including transport links, labour availability, qualification for grant, established training facilities, being in an industrial area with potential for a local supply base and so on.
In the end, though, there were three differentiators

  • the high quality of Merchant park Development’s bid team, particularly the fact that the full team was already in place and had demonstrated that they had the type of open, innovative and straightforward approach which fitted well with Hitachi’s ethos
  • business development and local government teams were, ultimately, the most professional and convincing in putting across their case
  • the presence of Nissan, its positive experience of the region, and the reservoir of awareness of Japanese national and industrial culture which had been accumulated in the area.

“It ticked all the boxes; Excellent transport links, an available workforce backed up with established training facilities and in an established manufacturing area with potential for local supply base. Nissan’s positive experience of the region and the strong industrial culture makes a difference. Add in a listening, willing and responsive developer and the decision was made." - Darren Cumner - Plant Manager, Hitachi Rail Europe

What has Business Durham done for you?
“Planning a development of this magnitude needed all kinds of interface with the public and private sector locally. An enthusiasm for the project was apparent and Business Durham and the local MP were willing and able to open doors to get things done"

Its experience so far

We have received:

  • total and effective support from Phil Wilson, MP for Sedgefield
  • support from Business Durham in co-ordinating local authority services and helping us to map the local supply chain capability.
  • responsive and fast service from the planning department at Durham with good coordination between it and us
  • enthusiastic and supportive reporting from the local press
  • constructive engagement from Trades Unions

All the local bodies that Hitachi has been involved with in the region have been universally willing and enthusiastic in their desire to assist in whatever way possible; the Hitachi team could not have asked for more.

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