Construction will begin at the end of this year, and production is due to start in 2016, when the plant will begin assembling the first batch of Super Express Train (SET) vehicles, which were ordered by the British government in July 2012 as part of the Intercity Express Programme (IEP).

Hitachi will deliver a total of 596 SET vehicles (92 trains), which will replace most of the 200km/h High Speed Trains (HSTs) used on the Great Western Main Line (phase 1) and East Coast Main Line (phase 2). The first four five-car trains will be assembled at Hitachi's Kasado plant in Japan before final assembly moves to Newton Aycliffe, where the remaining 349 phase 1 vehicles will be built.

Hitachi says the site will create 730 long-term jobs, including a research and development unit, and it hopes to win further orders from customers in Britain and mainland Europe to sustain the plant in the longer-term.

The facility will have a rail connection to the national network and an electrified test track, which will be built on land leased from Network Rail.

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