Track completion marks significant milestone for Britain’s newest train factory

The final track component was installed at Merchant Park on Wednesday 25 March, connecting the factory with the rail network for the first time.

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Network Rail, Story Contracting, VolkerRail and Hitachi Rail Europe turned the last Pandrol clip at the £82million Newton Aycliffe site which will deliver the next generation of high speed rail carriages to the UK.

The final Pandrol clip, a rail fastening, which is used to fasten rails to railway sleepers, was the final installation of 35,000 fixings and symbolises the completion of track works and the connection of new track to Hitachi’s Rail Europe’s Facility.

The project has also seen the installation of 7,000 metres of sidings and a new 1km long overhead electrified test track, along with the reconfiguration of the existing branch line and its connection to the site.

Phil Verster, route managing director, Network Rail said: “This final fixing signals an important milestone in this exciting project. The Intercity Express Train will bring a step-change for passengers, enabling more and faster journeys. This facility is an achievement in itself and will continue to bring economic benefits to the north east as well as maintaining the region’s proud rail heritage.

As part of this collaboration VolkerRail completed the required modifications to the signalling and telecoms equipment, to enable the connection of the test track to the existing railway infrastructure, including a new signalling interlocking and control panel. Works are ongoing to complete the remaining rail systems work and to provide electrification to the facility, via an overhead line system powered by a 25KV substation.

Ken Robinson, VolkerRail’s specialist businesses director said: “We are proud to be a part of this collaboration, delivering an important project for the railway as a whole and bringing significant employment opportunities to the region.”

Expected to be completed by mid-2015, this facility will serve as a Hitachi Rail Europe facility for train manufacturing and assembly.

Rail Minister Claire Perry said: “We are investing record amounts in our railways as part of our long-term economic plan. Connecting the Hitachi train facility at Newton Aycliffe to the track is a key step in roll out of the InterCity Express programme, which will create hundreds of jobs locally and thousands more across the UK supply chain.

“The trains made here will transform passengers’ journeys in the south west and north, with more seats on each train, more services, reduced journey times and improved reliability.”