Hopes high over site for Flintshire factory to build new trains

Reporter:

Matt Jones

A DECISION on where to build a new high-speed fleet of trains could be made by October.

Hitachi has shortlisted its Deeside site and a factory in County Durham as the possible locations to build a £100million factory to manufacture new inter-city express trains and create up to 800 jobs.

Despite the firm securing the £7.5billion Department of Transport contract, the government’s comprehensive spending review could kill the project.

But with £250,000 being spent on renewal areas in Queensferry, Shotton and Connah’s Quay the future is starting to look bright for the area, according to Tony Sharps, deputy leader of Flintshire Council.

He said: “It is gratifying to know we are still on the shortlist. If it is to come to Deeside it is fantastic news. These will be highly-skilled and highly paid jobs. With the possibility of attracting £10 million in funding it looks as if things are starting to light up on Deeside as we appear to be coming out of the recession.

“With the money being spent on the renewal areas everyone will reap the benefits.”
Production on the new fleet could start in 2013.

The new trains, which will replace the existing inter-city fleet, are expected to be more environmentally friendly, carry more passengers and reach higher speeds.

Alistair Dormer, managing director of Hitachi Rail Europe said construction of the site could create a further 200 jobs.

He added: “Hitachi Rail Europe is part of the bidding consortium Agility Trains, which was announced as the preferred bidder for the government’s Intercity Express Programme in February 2009.

“When Agility Trains was announced preferred bidder, Hitachi made a commitment to establish a rolling stock manufacturing and assembly facility in the UK to fulfil this contract.

“Over the last 18 months we have conducted an in-depth search for a suitable site.
We looked at up to 40 sites throughout the UK and conducted feasibility studies that evaluated the extent to which each site fulfilled a number of business driven criteria.”

Alyn and Deeside MP Mark Tami is backing the bid and has written to Hitachi and the Welsh Assembly Government in support of bringing the work to Deeside.

A Welsh Assembly Government spokesman said: “We have had contact with Hitachi and we would welcome any decision to invest in Wales.”

See full story in the Leader

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