England

County Durham train plant 'would bring £660m' to region

A contract to build Hitachi rail carriages in County Durham would bring major economic benefits to the region if it was awarded, according to a county council report.

The study of the advantages of building super express trains in Newton Aycliffe estimated a £660m boost over 20 years. About 1,000 jobs could be created.

The impact on the region has been compared to Nissan's Washington plant.

The report will be presented to government ministers on 21 September.

Japanese firm Hitachi was provisionally awarded a £7.5bn government contract to build the express train carriages last year and must now choose a suitable location for the plant.

The Newton Aycliffe site at Amazon Park is the firm's "first choice", with Deesside in North Wales also in the running.

A spokesperson for Hitachi said up to 200 people would be involved in the construction of the new plant.

Image caption The new trains could be in operation by 2014

A further 800 would be employed in manufacturing the trains, which could be in operation by 2014.

Sedgefield MP Phil Wilson said: "If we get this it would be the biggest investment in the north-east of England since the Nissan car plant in Washington.

"The North East is the place to have it."

Durham County Council chief executive George Garlick said: "This is a rare opportunity to bring about a transformation that would have an almost immediate impact on the local economy and beyond.

"For every £1 of public investment the estimated return is £48 over a 20-year period.

"These are real, tangible and realistic targets."

The government is expected to make an announcement in October on whether to approve the Hitachi consortium plans and site location.

The consortium, called Agility Trains, also includes John Laing and Barclays Bank.

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