THERE is renewed hope in the rail industry after the Government indicated that it would bring forward an order for 10 new trains for the Elizabeth Line in London so that the Alstom plant in Derby could keep working.

The Derby site has been making trains for 147 years, employs 1,300 people directly, and is due to be in partnership with Hitachi of Newton Aycliffe to begin making trains for the HS2 line late next year. If the Government had allowed Alstom to close, Britain would have been the only G7 country without any design and build rail facility.

The Government had been aware of the looming crisis at Alstom and Hitachi but seemed not to want to put a pipeline of orders – a gentle but consistent trickle of work so that the factories can be kept ticking over – in place, but the moves in Derby suggest it is now prepared to act.

So what about Hitachi? It also needs an order to be brought forward so it can be kept working until it begins on HS2 next year.

If the Government can act for Derby why not for Aycliffe?

And, yes, the Sedgefield MP Paul Howell brokered a meeting yesterday with the Transport Secretary Mark Harper from which positive noises emerged. They are only noises and there’s a long way to go, but this apparent change in the Government’s position is the first whiff of welcome hope for those 730 people at Hitachi who must have worry gnawing away at them.