IF there were an easy-fix magic wand, the Government would surely have waved it and it would have secured the future of the Hitachi factory at Newton Aycliffe.

In an election year, when voters will judge whether levelling up is a reality or really just a gimmick, to have such a landmark factory close will do the Conservative cause no good at all in the local seats it won from Labour in 2019.

And for our region, on the brink of celebrating the 200th anniversary of the Stockton & Darlington Railway, to have such a recent closure beside the original line on its track record will be embarrassing.

But the signs are not positive, with the Alstom factory in Derby – which was to be Hitachi’s partner in building the HS2 trains from 2026 – having given the Government formal notice of its intention to close. That will end 147 years of train building on the site – history does not count for much.

So we have to keep up the pressure on our MPs and on the Government. Hitachi is not just important for our local economy but also for the nation – how embarrassing it would be if Britain shuts its factories and then buys trains from France or Japan to run on its new high speed line.

If levelling up has any meaning, it is about having an industrial strategy that protects manufacturing regions from perennial boom and bust. As the Prime Minister said, there is “a strong order book” for railways in the near future, so why not have a strategy that levels out that workload, bringing one contract forward, so that our home factories are kept working?

It will be hard to manage such a strategy, but for all the Government’s sympathy and talk of remaining in “close contact” with the rail industry, voters will want to see some tangible results that look like levelling up in action.