BUSINESS and political leaders have welcomed news that County Durham is set for a manufacturing jobs boom.
Transport Secretary Philip Hammond confirmed yesterday that Agility Trains, a consortium made up of Japanese trainmaker Hitachi and services group John Laing, will build trains to replace the Intercity 125 diesel and Intercity 225 electric locos, still in use on the national network, which date from the 1970s and 80s.
The consortium’s £4.5billion investment in Newton Aycliffe will see the first new trains in service within five years.
Sunderland Central MP Julie Elliott said: “This is a result of the tireless efforts of members of the business community, trade unions and local and national politicians.
“Hundreds of high-quality jobs will be created by Hitachi’s investment, including a raft of much-needed skilled apprenticeships. Not only that, but many more jobs will be created in the supply industries. There’s a real shot in the arm too for the construction industry as several hundred jobs will be created building the factory.
“Our economy has taken a battering lately, but Hitachi has clearly seen the potential of the people in this region. We are resourceful, hard working and talented and today we have been given our just rewards. The economic advantages will be shared throughout County Durham and Wearside.”
North East Chamber of Commerce chief executive James Ramsbotham compared the news to the arrival of Nissan on Wearside. “This is absolutely phenomenal news for the region,” he said. “We now have to bring together the businesses that will make up the supply chain so it is not just the 500+ jobs that are on the site but also the potentially thousands more that will support the Hitachi plant.
“As we saw with Nissan, a home-grown supply chain based in the North East increases the economic benefits exponentially and we need to be fit and ready to support Hitachi in every way that we can.”
Stewart Watkins, managing director of Durham County Council’s strategic investment arm the County Durham Development Company (CDDC), said: “This is undoubtedly one of the best pieces of news for the County Durham economy for some time.”
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