Hitachi Rail Europe (HRE) has unveiled its first Intercity Express (IEP) train built at its manufacturing facility in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, UK.

The £82m facility was opened by the company in September last year as part of the company's plan to develop a hub of industry in England's north-east.

The Newton Aycliffe plant is set to employ around 900 people by next year.

HRE managing director Karen Boswell said: “The company that built the world famous bullet trains is now building the next generation of UK trains, which will deliver a step change in intercity travel, offering more capacity, greater comfort and a lower carbon footprint.

“Today's launch comes at an exciting time for UK rail and we welcome the government's recent commitment to further investment in rail infrastructure and the digitisation of Britain's railways.”

 By 2019, HRE plans to employ 2,000 people across 14 UK sites, including manufacturing and maintenance facilities.

A host of businesses in the UK will continue to supply parts for new trains and support several additional jobs across the country.

"The company that built the world famous bullet trains is now building the next generation of UK trains."

UK Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: “These new trains will give passengers more seats, greater comfort, better reliability and faster, more frequent services.”

Hitachi will have 281 trains running on the UK network in total, carrying passengers along intercity and commuter routes.

The first train leaving the company’s UK production line marks an achievement ahead of introduction of the £5.7bn IEP programme funded by the government to modernise intercity travel in the country.

In 2005, the DfT started the IEP to consider what should replace the ageing high-speed trains (HSTs).

Upon completion of the programme, HRE will have supplied 122 modern intercity trains for passengers travelling on the Great Western and East Coast main lines.

Image: First UK built IEP train. Photo: courtesy of Hitachi Rail Europe.