A NORTH-EAST train builder says it remains totally committed to the region, despite missing out on a £1bn contract.

Hitachi Rail Europe, in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, had bid to make trains for the Crossrail commuter line across London, which is Europe’s biggest construction project.

However, Government ministers this morning awarded the contract to rivals Bombardier.

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The decision is a blow to Hitachi, which will open its £82m Newton Aycliffe plant in 2016, employing 730 workers.

Bosses told The Northern Echo they were extremely disappointed at the decision, adding they felt the company had submitted a strong bid.

However, they said it already has enough work on its books to keep staff busy until at least 2020, stressing Crossrail was one of several deals it hopes to secure in the coming years.

The Government previously awarded the Japanese firm contracts to make high speed trains for the East Coast and Great Western lines.

A spokeswoman said: “This doesn't change our plans at Newton Aycliffe in any way.

“It would have just been another boost for the factory and for the order book, and we are as committed to Aycliffe as we always have been.

“We are very disappointed over the Crossrail bid, but remain committed to building trains for the UK and Europe from our Newton Aycliffe plant.

“We will also be seeking feedback from Crossrail to understand how we can improve our bids to secure ongoing employment for the growing team at Aycliffe and our many UK suppliers.”

The decision to hand the work to Derby-based Bombardier, which three years ago lost out to Siemens on a £1.6bn Thameslink contract, has been hailed by Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin.

Mr McLoughlin, MP for the Derbyshire Dales, last year visited the site of Hitachi's new factory with Business Secretary, Dr Vince Cable.

He said: “This announcement will mean state of the art trains providing quick and comfortable journeys for the millions of people, and is great news for UK manufacturing.”