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Intercity Express Programme

Volume 518: debated on Wednesday 10 November 2010

The Petition of residents of the Sedgefield constituency, and others,

Declares that the petitioners believe that the Government should implement the procurement of rolling stock through the Intercity Express programme, which would lead to Hitachi building a manufacturing site in Newton Aycliffe; and further declares that this would result in the creation of hundreds of direct jobs and thousands of jobs in the supply chain, of which the majority would be in manufacturing, giving a much needed boost to the North East economy and improving rail services nationwide.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to implement the procurement of rolling stock through the Intercity Express Programme.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Phil Wilson, Official Report, 13 October 2010; Vol. 516, c. 459.]

[P000863]

Observations from the Secretary of State for Transport:

In February 2009, Agility Trains, a consortium of Hitachi and John Laing, was appointed preferred bidder to build and maintain a fleet of new Super Express trains under the Intercity Express Programme (IEP). The initial order, together with all of the options, would have brought the total fleet size up to 1,400 rail vehicles.

If the order goes ahead, Hitachi has made clear its ambition to establish a new assembly plant at Newton Aycliffe in the Sedgefield constituency, within County Durham to build the new trains. The new plant would employ around 500 people, and a further 200 during construction.

The Government also understand how important this project is to British manufacturing and the north east, and how seriously the project is being taken in Japan.

In his recent review of IEP, Sir Andrew Foster suggested that the programme should be paused while possible credible alternatives are assessed, and the Department has been progressing this work. Agility Trains made a submission to the Department during September, and it improves the business case for that particular option.

The work has been focused on how this option compares to the others: in terms of value for money and affordability.

We are currently giving further consideration to the revised proposals from Agility Trains for the Intercity Express Programme, and announcements on other DfT rolling stock programmes will be made in the light of the Government’s ongoing work on IEP.