County Durham train plant bid put to government

The meeting lasted longer than expected

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A team of business leaders and politicians have put the case for creating train-building jobs in County Durham to the government.

They had a meeting with Transport Secretary Phillip Hammond in London about locating a rail assembly plant in Newton Aycliffe.

Hitachi was provisionally awarded a £7.5bn contract to build carriages and must now choose a location.

The estimated boost from the project would be £660m over 20 years.

The group delivered a report setting out the economic impact on the county and region.

The project is dependant on Hitachi being granted the Intercity Express Programme Contract in the government's Comprehensive Spending Review in October.

Computer-generated depiction of one of the new trains The new trains could be in operation by 2014

The company has indicated Newton Aycliffe is its favoured site.

Leader of Labour-led Durham County Council Simon Henig said: "This could be really very important to the future of County Durham and the North East particularly at a time when the public sector is going to be under very severe pressure in terms of reducing resources over the next few years.

"Here we have an opportunity working with a major private sector company to bring in a very large investment, a very large number of jobs to County Durham and the North East.

"Those opportunities don't come about very often and this is why we are going to try to persuade the government to give it the go-ahead which would have a massive impact within the county and regionally."

Following the meeting, Phil Wilson, Labour MP for Sedgefield, said: "I still see the glass as being half full and we've just got to continue to make the case for the north east of England, which we did."

Up to 200 people would be involved in the construction of the new plant, with a further 800 involved in building the trains.

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