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Developer confident all target dates will be hit – despite slippage
2:49pm Friday 19th October 2012 in Business
THE developer behind the Hitachi Rail project has admitted there has been a delay, but said it remains 100 per cent confident that all target dates will be hit.
Mark Bickell, a development project manager with Merchant Place Developers, said there had been some interim slippage as the finer details of the project were worked out.
He said final legal negotiations for the £4.5bn train deal – which was formally approved in July – between Merchant Place, Hitachi and the Government were now in their advanced stages.
Mr Bickell said: “We need the sign-off from the Government, but it wants to see the final numbers.”
He added that the end date for the project remained the same and the firm was 100 per cent confident it would meet the timetable it had set out.
Mr Bickell said Merchant Place would begin a tendering process to find a main contractor to build the 473,000sq ft train assembly plant at its Amazon Business Park early next year.
Building work to create the foundations would formally commence next November, with a view to completing the plant by June 2015 Mr Bickell told delegates at the Oktoberfest event, in Newton Aycliffe: “I must stress that every opportunity will be given to local businesses, but we are striving for value for money.
“At the same time we will be stipulating within the contract documentation that apprenticeships, training, schools and colleges will be encouraged by all who are involved, thus endeavouring to create employment opportunities for young people.
“We are working hard to deliver a major project of great importance which will provide employment in the North-East not just during the construction phase, but for years to come.”
Chris Dobson, a spokesman for Merchant Place Developers, said of the project: “There has been a slight drag of two or three months, but generally speaking we are on target.
“We have been flag-waving today and reminding visitors that there are opportunities in the supply chain which are being developed on a daily basis.”
Jamie Foster, procurement director for Hitachi Rail Europe, said: “We are in the final stages of negotiation with the developer and will plan to break soil next year.
“This program will see us build a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility which will meet the needs of our ongoing manufacturing strategy.”
Mr Foster said Hitachi was committed to exploring opportunities within the region.
However, he warned that the location of the new facility was not a free pass for success for firms that hoped to secure contracts through the project.
He said all suppliers would have to ensure that their pricing met its commitment to deliver cost-effective trains and to ensure they delivered their work to the program on time.