YORK based Shepherd Group has been awarded the contract to build a new £82 million rail manufacturing plant in the North East.

Hitachi Rail Europe announced today it has appointed the construction firm for its new train factory in Newton Aycliffe.

The build phase is set to create 150 jobs, with work due to start later this year, while the factory will directly employ 730 people when fully operational.

The first contract to be fulfilled at the plant will be the fleet of 122 Class 800 series trains for the York-headquartered East Coast Main Line and the Great Western Main Line as part of the Intercity Express Programme.

Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills Vince Cable and Secretary of State for Transport Patrick McLoughlin were both on site this morning for the announcement.

Mr Cable, who’s department has invested £4 million in the factory under the Grant for Business Investment scheme, said: “Hitachi's decision to base its European factory in Newton Aycliffe shows the UK is an attractive place for international businesses to invest and grow.”

The 43,000sqm factory will be built from Shepherd’s regional office in Darlington.

Mark Perkins, chief executive for Shepherd Group Built Environment, said: “We are delighted to have been awarded the contract to build this landmark development in the North East.

“Shepherd invested a vast amount of time and research carefully gathering insight into Hitachi’s specific requirements before proposing exactly how we would deliver such a large and complex scheme.

“Our integrated supply chain incorporating Shepherd Construction, as well as Shepherd Engineering Services (SES), means we can offer an end-to-end approach. We are very much looking forward to starting work later this year.”

Executive chairman and chief executive officer of Hitachi Rail Europe, Alistair Dormer, said: “We want to establish Hitachi Rail Europe as a key British manufacturer of trains and this new factory is a huge step towards doing that.

“I would like to congratulate Shepherd which has won the tender to build the plant against strong competition. We look forward to working with them on this exciting project.”