I REMEMBER the campaign local people organised a decade ago to ensure the government allowed Newton Aycliffe’s Hitachi factory to go ahead. It created well paid, skilled jobs and brought train building back home. Ten years on, Hitachi is now bidding to build the HS2 rolling stock, creating many more jobs for many more years.

Boris Johnson’s decision to go back on his manifesto commitment to extend the high speed route to the east of the country will hit our ability to connect with the rest of the UK, breaking a manifesto commitment local Conservative MPs championed. However, I haven’t given up on the benefits of HS2 to the North East because, if Hitachi are successful in their bid, the economic benefit to the area will still be enormous, even though the route is not destined for the us and even though the Tees Valley mayor says “it’s a waste of money”.

I was also disappointed to see the Government’s lack of commitment to opening the Leamside line which would connect Newcastle with Teesside and release pressure on the East Coast Main Line. The Leamside line’s economic benefits would be significant, allowing commuters easier access to workplaces across the region and give a reason for a multi-million pound station at Ferryhill. Without the opening of the Leamside line, Ferryhill would be a station to nowhere. Yes, there would a service to Middlesbrough, but only intermittently. The proposed station would become a white elephant. I’m not against the station, but it does need a purpose, it can’t just be a vanity project.

And there are still shouts of despair from Ferryhill about the state of the local bus service.

It would cost between £700m and £1.5bn to open the Leamside line. That’s a very big price tag for a station at Ferryhill to be worthwhile, and intercity trains wouldn’t stop there, either. That is why the case for more access for people to commute to and from all parts of the region continues to be made by Councillor Martin Gannon of Gateshead council and Catherine McKinnell, the Newcastle MP who leads the cause for the East Coast Main Line in Parliament.

I sincerely hope Hitachi secures the order to build the HS2 trains. It’s the least the North East deserves. The Government intends buying the trains up-front, making HS2 more expensive. The new Azuma trains on the East Coast Main Line are leased instead. If the HS2 trains were leased, the saved up-front costs could be spent on such transport initiatives as opening the Leamside line, which must happen to make a station at Ferryhill viable. The whole of the region could then enjoy the huge dividends in economic activity well designed infrastructure projects bring.

The Hitachi factory and Ferryhill are both in the Sedgefield constituency. If I was the MP, I know what I’d be campaigning for: Hitachi to win the HS2 contract with a leasing agreement, releasing up-front capital for investment in rail infrastructure including a station at Ferryhill, so areas like the North East stop relying on a Victorian rail network.

L Phil Wilson is the former Labour MP for Sedgefield