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Hitachi announces 250 job losses in County Durham

Signage at the Hitachi factory in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham. Credit: PA Images

Hitachi have announced 250 job losses at their rail factory at Newton Aycliffe, County Durham.

The plant, which opened in 2015, employs 850 people. The firm said their order book "was not enough to sustain the workforce we have today."

The announcement will be followed by a 45-day consultation process with employees.

In a statement, the Japanese company said it was making the factory "more flexible, agile and globally competitive."

The factory is embarking today on the transition to a new core workforce model....

While this could see up to 250 employees leave the company, there may be opportunities of a number of staff to be redeployed to other parts of Hitachi's rail business...

These changes to the factory force force do not call into question Hitachi Rail's long term commitment to the Uk and are entirely unrelated to Brexit.

– Hitachi spokesperson
Opening of £82m Hitachi Rail Europe vehicle manufacturing facility in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham. Credit: PA Images

Hitachi will also make a single investment of £8.5 million in welding and painting facilities.

A spokesperson said the investment would help the Durham plant secure future contracts. Hitachi will finish building trains for the East Coast Mainline fleet in the coming months.

Ross Nagle, Hitachi's chief operating officer, said:

Paul Howell, the new MP for Sedgefield, called the news "unwelcome", but said he'd been "personally assured that Hitachi Rail remains completely committed to Newton Aycliffe, the North East and the UK."

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Neighbouring MP Alex Cunningham called the job losses "devastating" -

In September there were reports Hitachi had failed to secure a £500m contract to build the next generation of trains for the Tyne and Wear Metro.

In a statement, Nexus said:

“We have spoken to Hitachi today and we are assured that this is not linked to their bid to supply new trains for the Tyne and Wear Metro.”

– Nexus spokesperson

Two months later the Japanese manufacturer was awarded a £350m contract to build 23 intercity trains for Avanti West Coast.

Ben Houchen, Tees Valley mayor, said:

This news will be absolutely devastating to the loyal, hard-working staff at Hitachi Rail. This is yet more proof, if any more was needed, that Nexus have absolutely no intension of awarding the Tyne and Wear metro contract to Hitachi Rail.

I said months ago that this would be the consequences of not awarding the contract to Hitachi, and I am sad that my prediction has become reality for 250 highly skilled people. This is the real-life cost of making stupid decisions and it’s clear that the Tyne and Wear council leaders who control Nexus have little regard for protecting jobs in the North East.

– Ben Houchen

James Ramsbotham, chief executive of the North-East chamber of commerce, said Hitachi remained "a great manufacturing plant" and stressed the importance of the plant winning new contracts.