It’s been confirmed Newton Aycliffe train manufacturer Hitachi Rail has lost out on the Tyne and Wear Metro contract.
It was announced this morning that the metro operator Nexus has awarded the £362m project to Swiss firm Stadler.
The latest blow comes just three weeks after Hitachi confirmed it had started a consultation to re-size its factory – with 250 jobs expected to be cut at the Aycliffe train-assembling facility.
Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen slammed the decision, saying: “This is an absolutely disgraceful decision from Nexus.
“I’ve been warning people since October that this was going to happen and I said the procurement process should be stopped.
“Instead, the Labour run Tyne and Wear Councils sat back, did absolutely nothing and denied everything.
“They have made excuse after excuse as to why they wouldn’t work with a local, world-renowned company right on their doorstep.
“The result of this is not only Hitachi missing out on a significant contract that would have seen trains for the North-East, built in the North-East, but it has resulted in 250 hard-working, highly skilled local people losing their jobs.
“To add insult to injury, the Tyne and Wear Councils have awarded the contract to a firm which won’t even build the trains in the UK!
“It was bad enough that Hitachi had been snubbed and the trains wouldn’t be built in the North-East, but this makes the whole process even more outrageous.
“The people at Nexus and the Tyne and Wear council leaders must explain their actions to those workers who are out of work as a result of this ridiculous decision.
“Hitachi is an amazing manufacturing business and I will do everything I can to support this hugely important North-East company and local jobs going forward – as it is clear the Tyne and Wear Councils have no interest in doing so.”
Stadler, currently delivering new trains for Glasgow and Liverpool, has been chosen by Nexus after an 18-month worldwide search for the best manufacturing partner to build 42 new trains, to be delivered up to 2024.
Transport and civic leaders – including Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris MP and Coun Martin Gannon, the leader of Gateshead Council and Chair of the Joint Transport Committee for North East England – gathered at a special event at PROTO at the Baltic Quays in Gateshead to hear the announcement.
Beth Farhat, regional secretary for Northern TUC, said: “It’s good news for commuters in Tyne and Wear who have long been calling for better Metro infrastructure.
“It’s disappointing that the contract to build the new Metro rolling stock was not awarded to Hitachi at a time of deep uncertainty for their workforce in Newton Aycliffe.
“If the government are really serious about investing in the North-East I would urge them to get serious about infrastructure investment.”