Hitachi Rail celebrated the five-year anniversary on Sept. 3 of it officially opening its train manufacturing factory in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, England.
The team has built 192 trains over the past five years that are now in service.
The trains produced include the UK’s new intercity train of choice, as well as the Class 385 regional trains for Scotland.
When the factory opened, Hitachi Rail’s presence in the UK was minimal. Now, the company has a network of train maintenance centers that span England, Scotland and Wales and employs around 3,000 people, 700 of which are based in Newton Aycliffe.
As a result of the factory’s success, the initial investment of £82 million has now been increased to over £110 m. The most recent £8.5 million upgrade is seeing the creation of a brand new facility to weld and paint train carriages – the first of its type in Britain for a generation – which will increase the sophistication and capability of manufacturing at the site.
Hitachi Rail has also localized its supply chain in the UK, with whom it has spent £1.8 billion with since 2013, including more than 130 separate North East suppliers.
Hitachi says its presence has been a boost to education in the local area. More than 50 apprentices have completed their training at the factory and the partnership with the South Durham University Technical College, which Hitachi co-founded, has continued to grow.
As it enters its sixth year, the factories focus is on completing orders for new intercity trains for East Coast Trains (five trains), East Midlands Railway (33) and Avanti West Coast (23).
“On that first day when the factory was completely devoid of train cars but full of people - including the Prime Minister, Chancellor and the Japanese Ambassador – we had only a handful of employees and no one that had built a train before," said Ross Nagle, COO rolling stock UK." Since then, we have all been on a steep learning curve and have completed 192 trains that are now carrying passengers and being recognized for their incredible quality and reliability.
“From a standing start, this is a fantastic achievement and is thanks to the resilience and flexibility of the entire rolling stock team, who have adapted to new challenges – never more so than the last six months.”