HAVING campaigned passionately for the construction of the Hitachi train-building factory at Newton Aycliffe, which opened in 2015, we are extremely disappointed to learn that the company is not renewing the contracts of more than 100 of its temporary workers.

Temporary manufacturing contracts are notoriously volatile, but Hitachi’s failure to win a deal to design and manufacture 94 trains for the London Underground’s Piccadilly line is undoubtedly a major factor in the company’s decision to reduce its workforce.

As Sedgefield MP Phil Wilson says in today’s Northern Echo, it is hard to understand why Hitachi lost out on the London Underground contract to Siemens Mobility, when the German company’s proposed manufacturing site in East Yorkshire has not even been built yet.

Hitachi have other irons in the fire though, and their bid to build a new fleet of trains for the Tyne and Wear metro, a contract worth around £500m, has the potential to safeguard the Newton Aycliffe site for many years.

Nexus, the public body that owns and operates the Metro, will draw up a three-strong shortlist by June 2019 and announce the identity of the winning bidder by the end of next year.

Five companies have confirmed their bids so far – Hitachi, Bombardier, CAF, Downer/CRRC and Stadler – but only one employs workers in the North-East.

Surely that company has to be the one that wins the contract. Any other decision would be a betrayal of North-East manufacturing.