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Thursday, July 25, 2024

Labour MP pledges to protect Hitachi Rail factory

The new Labour MP for Newton Aycliffe and Spennymoor has pledged to protect the Hitachi Rail factory from closure.

Speaking after his election on Friday, Alan Strickland vowed to prioritise the future of the Newton Aycliffe site.

Hitachi officials previously warned the livelihoods of hundreds of people at the plant hang in the balance because of a production gap that leaves the site’s future uncertain.

The factory which opened in 2015, keeps 750 people in work on-site, alongside another 1,400 jobs indirectly.

It is making its final trains for Avanti West Coast and East Midlands Railway.

Earlier this year, ministers told Hitachi they had no plans to order more trains to run on the West Coast mainline, which the firm saw as the only viable way to plug the production gap.

The newly-elected Labour MP Alan Strickland said: “My first priority will be fighting for a step change in the world-class jobs, apprenticeships, and opportunities starting with working hard to safeguard the 700 high-tech jobs at Hitachi rail in Newton Aycliffe.

“Over the last 14 years we’ve been neglected as an area. Promises made, promises broken. That’s why week after week at door after door people told me they will be voting for change.”

Mr Strickland’s pledge was backed by former Conservative MP for Sedgefield, Paul Howell. “That factory and the people in it are amazing,” he said.

The former Conservative government said it was in talks with the manufacturer about securing a sustainable future for the site.

Alistair Dormer, Hitachi’s executive vice president of energy and mobility, previously called for action on day one of the new government to protect the hundreds of jobs. He said: “We’ve had lots of words, which is very nice, but we need action.”

Prime Minister Keir Starmer and high-profile colleagues visited the Hitachi headquarters in County Durham throughout the campaign trail.

And Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves repeatedly reaffirmed a pledge to exercise the option to bring forward additional trains on the Avanti West Coast contract.

Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, she said: “Labour have committed [and] I have committed to varying those contracts to bring forward work and bring out new procurement that Hitachi can bid for and I’m confident and they’re confident that they can win.”

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