Opinion Former Article

UNITE: Petition calls on Government to endorse Hitachi's bid for the Intercity Express Programme

A petition, signed by 10000 people, mainly from County Durham will be handed in at 10 Downing Street today (1.00pm, 14 October). The petition calls on the government to endorse Hitachi's bid for the £7.5bn Intercity Express Programme.

The Government will make a decision on the IEP during the Comprehensive Spending Review later this month.

Japanese firm, Hitachi has chosen Newton Aycliffe, County Durham as one of its preferred locations to build rolling stock as part of a £7.5 billion programme. Unite is pressing the UK government to commit to the next generation of high speed trains for the Intercity Express Programme. The programme would generate 800 direct jobs and a further 8000 jobs in the supply chain.

The petition predominantly signed by people in the communities around Newton Aycliffe calls upon the government to endorse the Hitachi project that will pave the way forward for construction work to commence at Hitachi's preferred site.

The scheme would see the government make a small initial investment and commit to buying the high-speed trains produced there. The bulk of the £40m start-up costs would be paid by a private consortium led by Hitatchi.

From 2002 to 2009 the UK's sole domestic volume train builder, Bombardier, has only manufactured half of the rolling stock ordered for the UK network. Unite believes a second train builder in the UK would mean the UK could capture much more of the UK rolling stock market than previously.

Unite regional secretary, Davey Hall who will deliver the petition to Downing street said:

"The people of County Durham know how important this bid is for jobs and the local economy and they're urging the government to support Hitachi's bid. If the government gives the green light to this contract the investment would put the North East back on the map as a significant train manufacturer for the European market. The contract would be a huge boost to the region's economy, generating jobs and supporting Britain's manufacturing base.

"The North East has a long and successful history with Japanese manufacturing and there is a shared commitment to promoting the region. I hope the government will share our faith, commitment and enthusiasm for the project."

ENDS

Contact: Ciaran Naidoo on 07768 931 315

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