Government respond as gap in orders at Hitachi rail factory prompt concerns for its future

The Hitachi rail factory in Newton Aycliffe faces a gap in orders with work on existing contracts expected to decline by October. Credit: PA

The Government say it is committed to securing the future of the Hitachi train factory in Newton Aycliffe amid concerns over its future.

The site faces a gap in orders with work on existing contracts expected to decline by October, leaving the Japanese manufacturer "reviewing all options" for the future.

Around 750 people are currently employed at the factory.

There have been calls for the Government to sign off on new train orders for the factory and the issue was raised in Parliament by Conservative MP for Sedgefield Paul Howell during Prime Minister's questions on Wednesday (17 April).

In response, Rishi Sunak said: "The Department for Transport and the Secretary of State have been actively engaged with companies to ensure we have a robust supply chain.

"We're investing record amounts in rail investment, particularly in the north, and we're pleased to see that's being delivered."

Hitachi have manufactured trains for rail lines across the country at their Newton Aycliffe plant. Credit: The Office of Rail and Road

The Department for Transport later confirmed that it had held "constructive" talks with union representatives for the Hitachi workforce and "remain committed to secure a sustainable future for rail manufacturing at Newton Aycliffe".

However, the main workers union, Unite, have called on the Government "to pull its finger out" and award an extension of the contract to build trains for the West Coast mainline to Hitachi immediately.

The calls have been echoed by the Labour MP for Easington Grahame Morris.

"I want them to accelerate the orders," he told ITV Tyne Tees. "I want them to have a truncated process to ensure that there is work in these factories.

"Obviously Newton Aycliffe's next door to me, and some of my constituents work either directly for Hitachi or in the supply chain."

Hitachi say they are committed to finding a way forward for their Newton Aycliffe plant. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

Hitachi says it is committed to finding a way forward for the County Durham site despite the uncertainty.

A Hitachi Rail spokesperson said: “The North East skills base and supply chain we have built has delivered social value and levelling-up. Maintaining these benefits is in the national interest.

"Despite the lack of certainty, we remain committed to working with all stakeholders to find a viable way forward for our state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Newton Aycliffe.

"Preserving regional skills and supply chain will allow us to be competitive in future procurements and support British economic growth.”

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