HITACHI HAS begun consultation with employees and trade union Unite about reducing the number of jobs at its Newton Aycliffe factory in County Durham. The manufacturer says this could see up to 250 employees leave the company, although there may be opportunities for staff to be redeployed elsewhere in the Hitachi Rail business.

Construction coming to a close: No 800203 for LNER on the test track at Hitachi’s Newton Aycliffe site on 17 May 2019. This was one of 10 Class 800/2 five-car bi-mode units ordered for the operator.
Joel Coulson

The move comes as Hitachi completes the contract to supply 122 trains for Great Western Railway and LNER ordered by Government through the Intercity Express Programme (IEP). It says the workforce at Newton Aycliffe will be resized as it moves to a new core workforce model, with flexibility to draft in additional staff on fixed-term contracts according to demand. Once the IEP build is completed, attention will turn to orders for FirstGroup’s open access service for the East Coast main line, East Midlands Railway and Avanti West Coast, totalling 61 trains, with work due to begin in the second half of this year.

Hitachi has also announced an £8.5 million investment to create new carriage welding and painting facilities at Newton Aycliffe. Previously such work has been carried out at Kasado in Japan or Pistoia in Italy prior to delivery to the UK for assembly. The ‘significant’ increase in capability will allow Newton Aycliffe to become a full scope manufacturing facility, from welding panels through to building complete trains, making the site ‘even better placed to complete globally’.

Hitachi says the changes will put its successful UK operation ‘on a long-term, sustainable footing’ by making its UK factory ‘more flexible, agile and globally competitive’ enabling the company to continue to win new train orders.