North East England is home to one of the most advanced and innovative rail sectors in the UK.
From manufacturing components for rolling stock to onboard digital solutions, North East England offers OEMs and tier-one suppliers a local and reliable supply chain. The region’s exceptional skills base, low operational costs, great transport links and superb connectivity has attracted such global advanced manufacturing companies as Hitachi Rail, DB Schenker and Thermacore Europe. Hitachi Rail’s £100 million rail vehicle manufacturing facility in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, employs over 700 highly-skilled workers and is complemented by an experienced local supply chain that includes Petards, Nomad Digital and Dellner Romag.
International rail company Vivarail, which upcycles D-Trains to transform disused carriages into state-of-the-art passenger trains for use as local commuter-type trains, has located and expanded in Seaham, County Durham. The region also has expertise in the wider rail manufacturing sector. Variable Message Signs (VMS), which develops rail signal solutions, is one of the market leaders in its field, while Siemens supplies high-tech electrical components for rolling stock projects.
Rail companies in the region are also paving the way in the future for greener railways. Both Hitachi Rail and Vivarail are working with their suppy chains to develop battery powered solutions to meet the greening of the railways.
The Tyne and Wear Metro system is the UK’s largest rapid transport system outside of London. In 2020, Swiss company Stadler was appointed the £362 million contract to build and maintain trains for the new fleet and to build and operate a £70 million maintenance facility in the region. Half of the subcontract work will be awarded to regional companies, bringing favourable opportunities within the local supply chain.
A primary reason why investors choose North East England is the strength of the local workforce to increase capacity. With over 116,000 workers in the manufacturing sector, companies have a large talent pool of skilled workers to choose from.
North East England has over 2,000 acres of development land, much of which has Enterprise Zone status and benefits from simplified planning processes, tax incentives and competitive property rents.
The region is a renowned innovation hub, testing new technologies and practices to further develop the UK rail sector. The region has five world-leading univeristies which, alongside academia, centres for excellence and the private sector, are working together to help drive forward the UK rail sector. Newcastle University is one of only three UK universities leading the Rolling Stock Innovation Centre (part of the UK Rail Research Innovation Centre).
To support a smooth transition to the region, Invest North East England can provide a range of services, including property searches, data on skills and guidance on incentives, as well as making introductions to specialist networks that can offer guidance and links to potential customers, opportunities and research and development (R&D) support.