Website gets supply chain on track

 NORTH East businesses will have the chance to stake their claim on millions of pounds worth of supply chain opportunities with the launch of a new website for the Hitachi rail project.

 County Durham Development Company (CDDC), the strategic investment arm of Durham County Council, has launched www.hitachirailproject.co.uk today, a site that will allow businesses from across the North East and beyond to register their interest in becoming part of the Newton Aycliffe plant’s supply chain. 

 Managing director of Hitachi Rail Europe, Alistair Dormer, has made clear that the company’s intention is to use the locally based supply chain wherever possible, in a similar way to Nissan in Sunderland.  It was estimated, in a report commissioned by Hitachi, that the Intercity Express Programme’s supply chain could support some 3,800 jobs among its direct suppliers by 2016.

 Mr Dormer said: “It will be quite a while before people in Newton Aycliffe will see activity on the site we are looking at for our rolling stock factory. But even before the construction starts, we want to build a good understanding of local businesses, find out where there are strengths, and which companies we can approach once the factory is ready to go to work. Hitachi takes great pride in being a part of the community and that involves working with local people and companies wherever possible.”

 The website, which has been developed by CDDC on behalf of Hitachi and developer Merchant Place Developments, will give businesses the chance to express their interest in the construction, fit-out and manufacturing phases of the project.  They will also inform them of forthcoming events, where they can learn more about the contract opportunities that the project will bring. 

 Stewart Watkins, managing director of CDDC, said: “The Hitachi Rail development represents a massive opportunity for County Durham and the North East and our businesses need to step up to the plate early if we are to take advantage of this. 

 “By signing up online, businesses will officially register their interest in being part of the supply chain, allowing them to stake their claim on what could potentially be, significant contract opportunities.”

 Geoff Hunton, a director at Merchant Place Developments, said: “The proposed development is some 460,000 sq ft involving rail access and the construction of a high-tech, sustainable, manufacturing facility with office space. This will be one of the region’s largest construction and fit-out projects in recent years.”

 Businesses can sign up online at www.hitachirailproject.co.uk.

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