TRAIN builder Hitachi has said a decision to move work from its County Durham factory to Italy was because of workloads and has nothing to do with it gearing up for Brexit.

The Japanese firm was due to make a new fleet of intercity trains for Transpennine Express next year at its plant in Newton Aycliffe. However, these trains will now be built at Pistoia, Tuscany as the production line at Aycliffe will be full in 2019, the firm told The Northern Echo, stressing that this decision would not put North-East jobs at risk and has nothing to do with Brexit.

A Hitachi spokesperson added: “We are delivering pioneering intercity trains for TransPennine Express passengers in 2019. 

"The investment in these new trains is supporting thousands of jobs across the UK through Hitachi’s decision to choose over 30 UK firms to supply key components to our Italian sister factory. 

"The trains will also be maintained at our recently built depot in Doncaster, home to over 250 workers. Our UK train factory in the North-East will continue to be busy throughout 2019”.

Hitachi's Aycliffe factory employs more than 1,000 people. Since it opened in 2015 the plant has made trains to run on the East Coast mainline and Great Western routes, and for services across Scotland.