A NORTH-East transport operator has refuted claims that the decision to make up to 250 redundancies at a County Durham factory is related to its bid to build trains for metro services in Tyne and Wear.

Last year there was speculation that Hitachi would not be awarded the contract to build new trains for the Tyne and Wear Metro at its factory in Newton Aycliffe.

Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen criticised Nexus, the transport body responsible for the service.

He 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 intention 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.”

A spokesperson for Nexus said: "We have spoken to Hitachi today and have been given an assurance from them that this decision is not linked to their bid to supply new trains to the Tyne and Wear Metro."