Hitachi Rail Europe Ltd has celebrated the construction of the steel frame at its manufacturing facility in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham.
Representing a significant milestone in the £82m factory development, which started in November 2013, the facility is expected to be complete by mid-2015.
Once completed, the facility will serve as Hitachi Rail’s primary European facility for train manufacturing and assembly. It will also be the base for the manufacture of the new Great Western Main Line (GWML) and East Coast Main Line (ECML) trains the company is building for the Government’s Intercity Express Programme (IEP).
Earlier this month, Shepherd Construction, lead contractor on the project, stated that it will have up to 400 workers on the site when the factory build reaches its peak, an increase on original estimates.
The ceremony, which was attended by a number of councillors, DfT representatives, regional suppliers and rail officials, was hosted by Keith Jordan, managing director of Hitachi Rail Europe, Michael Chicken, CEO of Merchant Place Development, and Andrew Constantine, regional managing director of Shepherd Construction.
During the event, guests were given a breakdown of the work currently underway at the site and were invited to observe the progress that had so far been made in the construction process.
Jordan said: “This celebration is a reflection of all the hard work that has been undertaken by Merchant Place Developments, Shepherd and the many suppliers on the construction process over the past six months.
“This factory will be the hub for Hitachi Rail Europe’s manufacturing operations in the UK and Europe and it’s important that we continue to work effectively with our contractors to ensure a state-of-the-art facility is produced.”
During the construction phase on the 43,000 square metre factory area, more than 2,000 tonnes of steel is expected to be used on the build. Constantine added: “This development has provided a welcome boost to the region’s economy, harnessing expertise from across the North East and providing hundreds of local jobs throughout the supply chain.
“Thanks to the collaborative and integrated approach established on the project, progress made on site to date has been excellent. We are looking forward to the next 12 months which will see our multidisciplinary, in-house teams of engineering and construction specialists help transform this site into an exceptional world-class technical facility.”