Politicians across the North East have backed the Northern Echo’s campaign to secure the future of a North East train manufacturing plant.

Council leaders and MPs have added their voices to calls urging the Government to step in to safeguard jobs at the Hitachi plant in Newton Aycliffe.

The factory keeps 750 people in work and the ongoing operation protects another 1,400 jobs indirectly.

But bosses at the Japanese firm warn a production gap in orders mean the future of the site is now at risk.

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The Northern Echo: Councillor Amanda HopgoodCouncillor Amanda Hopgood (Image: Contributor)Councillor Amanda Hopgood, Liberal Democrat leader of Durham County Council, said: “We fully support The Northern Echo’s campaign calling on the Government to do all in its power to help Hitachi and safeguard these jobs that are vital to local families as well as to the economy of both County Durham and the wider North East.

“We were pleased to work with The Northern Echo on its Back on Track campaign which played a huge part in Hitachi coming here back in 2015 and we have enjoyed an excellent relationship with the business in the years since, supporting its ultimately successful bid that led to Azuma trains with Japanese bullet technology being built in County Durham.

“I have personally written to the Secretary of State for Transport, with the support of council Leaders across the LA7 area, pressing the government to back Hitachi; and between us we will do everything in our power to make the case for these crucial jobs staying at Newton Aycliffe.”

The Northern Echo: Councillor Stephen HarkerCouncillor Stephen Harker (Image: Contributor)Councillor Stephen Harker, Labour leader of Darlington Borough Council, said, who is also backing the campaign for action, said scrapping HS2 means the region ‘will suffer the consequences for generations’.

He said: “My understanding is that Hitachi lost a contract for £2.8 billion for supplying HS2 trains. It now looks like the factory is in a very precarious state.

“We are looking at looking at a large number of very well paid and good jobs in the North East as a secondary fallout as a result of decisions Government has  made.

“I understand the Government has been promising to sort something out with regard to contracts for the factory but seemingly that has not come to anything.”

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Last year, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak hailed the Hitachi factory in Newton Aycliffe factory as a ‘fantastic example of world class manufacturing’ in the North East.

He has so far not responded to the Northern Echo’s plea for action to prevent the factory from being forced to close once the works dries up.

Alex Cunningham, Labour MP for Stockton North, also backed the Echo’s Hitachi campaign and said many people from across the Tees Valley are employed in the factory with ‘livelihoods at stake’.

He said: “The factory has hit the news over the last week with the potential job losses due to a lack of orders on the books after the government failed to guarantee the trains would be built.

“With only 12 months’ worth of orders left, local unions and workers need the Government to think again and avoid a shutdown of the site.”

The Northern Echo: Alex Cunningham Alex Cunningham (Image: Contributor) Middlesbrough MP Andy McDonald, a former Shadow Rail Minister and Shadow Transport Secretary, the Government has failed in its industrial policy and has failed to map out and stick to a long-term vision for our railway. 

He said: “Bringing Hitachi to our region was a great success and was delivered on the back of great campaigning by the local community, the Northern Echo and the then Sedgefield Labour MP Phil Wilson - and as he says we are now “coming to the crunch”. 

“Sadly, the recent history of rail in Great Britain since privatisation is littered with poor decision making, with a government asleep at the wheel and a complete failure to provide the framework for companies like Hitachi to be able to sustain their operations in an industry that this country needs. 

“This is just symptomatic of the Tories’ failure to have an industrial strategy that includes long term sustained investment in our railway. That culture will not change until they are removed from office. 

“They could at least, before they leave office later this year, take the necessary steps to ensure that this plant survives.” 

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The factory, which opened in 2015, is making its final trains for Avanti West Coast and East Midlands Railway.

There are currently no plans to create more trains for the West Coast Mainline, which the firm sees as the only viable way to plug the production gap.

The Northern Echo: Peter Gibson MPPeter Gibson MP (Image: Contributor)Peter Gibson, Conservative MP for Darlington, said: “I am deeply concerned about the situation at Hitachi and I know my colleague Paul Howell is working closely on the issue with the unions, management and Government and I will continue to follow matters very closely.”

The Northern Echo contacted County Durham Conservative MPs Dehenna Davison and Richard Holden, as well as Downing Street and the Department for Transport, for comment but has received no response.