MORE than 150 workers are to leave a North-East train builder.

Hitachi, which opened its Newton Aycliffe factory in 2015, is planning to allow a third of its 500 temporary workers to leave when their contracts expire at the end of the year.

The announcement comes just two months after Hitachi missed out on a contract to design and manufacture 94 Deep Tube trains to serve the London Underground’s Piccadilly line.

Sedgefield MP Phil Wilson said the train builder had missed out on "decade's worth of manufacturing" after losing the contract to German firm Siemens Mobility, and described the announcement as "really bad news".

He also reiterated claims he made earlier this year that the decision to award the contract to Siemens, which will now have to build a new factory in East Yorkshire in order to build the trains, made "no sense at all".

When the decision was announced, Transport for London said the Siemens Mobility factory would employ up to 700 people plus up to an additional 250 people during the construction phase of the factory.

Mr Wilson said: "It is really bad news for the people who are affected but I understand that the contracts were due to be up in June and Hitachi has already extended it by six months.

"There is never a good time to face losing your job but in the Christmas period it must be even worse.

“This just goes to prove how important it is for them to continue to win contracts – this is the issue that I raised with Transport for London, why have they given a contract to Siemens when their factory isn’t even built yet and Hitachi is already up and running – it makes no sense at all to me.

“I know Hitachi is in the running for the Nexus contract, which operates in the region, and there are lots of other contracts they are in for, but it is essential that they are successful in securing those contracts in the future.”

Hitachi, which currently has 730 permanent workers at its Aycliffe Business Park base, remains in the running for a £2.75bn contract to make trains for the HS2 high speed rail scheme, as part of a joint bid with Bombardier.

It was also revealed earlier this month that the firm had made the shortlist for a £500m contract to design, build and maintain a new fleet of trains for the Tyne and Wear Metro.

The first new trains will be delivered in 2021 to serve a network which carries more than 36 million passengers, connecting Sunderland, Newcastle and surrounding communities across the North East.

The first batch of new trains that have been constructed at Hitachi's Newton Aycliffe factory entered passenger service in 2017 as part of the Government’s £5.7bn Intercity Express Programme.

The firm still expects almost 300 North-East built trains will be in operation by 2021.

A spokesperson for Hitachi said: “It was always in our plan to have a number of people on fixed term contracts to allow our business to flex according to demand.

"These fixed term contracts were until December 31.

"As we had two projects running concurrently we needed this extra support.”