A NORTH-East MP and Labour’s shadow transport secretary visited an engineering firm yesterday to pledge his support to the rail industry.

Andy McDonald, who is MP for Middlesbrough, was invited to Hydram Engineering, in Ferryhill, to meet with workers and learn about the trade.

Operating in the rail industry supply chain, the visit was also to emphasise the importance of the industry for jobs and the positive impact he believes HS2 and investment in rail will make on businesses like Hydram.

Mr McDonald said: "We've got to make a commitment to HS2, it's an advanced rail network that the country needs for connectivity, to tackle capacity and deal with the critical issue of the climate crises.

“Improving connectivity and investment in northern infrastructure was the golden thread in Labour's manifestos for across the north, with HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail also committed to in Labour's national manifesto. The north - south divide will only be closed by investing in major infrastructure projects and this means delivering both Northern Powerhouse Rail and HS2 in full.

“Rail passengers have to put up with heavily-congested, slow, infrequent services, many of which are seriously late, cancelled completely or even stopped before reaching their final destination.

"A new mainline for HS2 will free up capacity on the existing network for passengers, as well as provide certainty for businesses like Hyrdram Engineering giving them the confidence they need to invest and secure jobs in the future.”

Mr McDonald also spoke to North-East critics of the rail projects who fear the region will lose out economically, he said: "We won't miss out if this is done properly.

"HS2 delivers the infrastructure for much of Northern Powerhouse Rail and if we want to get those connections we've got to make sure we deliver on both."

David Greatorex, managing director of Hydram added: "While no project should have a blank cheque, it’s vital that the HS2 project remains on track. Further delays and uncertainty make investment decisions very difficult for a business like ours.

“HS2 can be a real game-changer for Hydram and many other smaller firms in the supply chain. Job creation, inward investment and transport projects here in the North East and across the whole of north of England hinge on HS2’s completion.”