Transpennine Express urged to bring train production to Durham

Transpennine Express has been told it should rebuild its reputation in the North by bringing train production to Durham.

Mayoral candidate Kim McGuinness has called on the Government-controlled train operator to seriously consider awarding its upcoming contract for new rolling stock to North East-based Hitachi.

“Transpennine runs trains across the north, but after years of failing performance it’s time the company showed it is committed to our region by picking a northern workforce to build the trains that will serve the north,” Labour’s Kim McGuinness said.

Hitachi’s 750-strong workforce in Newton Aycliffe is waiting for a severely delayed Government announcement on extending a current contract – a government decision seen as essential if jobs are to be saved. As the fight to protect jobs continues, Kim McGuinness has written to Transpennine ahead of its tendering decision for 29 new electric trains.

She pointed out Transpennine’s disastrous performance in the region over recent years. When the train operator was taken over by Government in 2023 the dysfunctional train operator was cancelling around one in every six trains most days, with around half of all trains arriving late. While performance has improved, Kim said it is clear the operator has much further to go in restoring its reputation.

She said: “Transpennine Express was taken over by Government after it let people down across the North on a daily basis. Now the operator is looking to rebuild its service – and its reputation – by building new trains. At the same time we have a train manufacturer in Durham that is fighting to protect its workforce.

“Surely the biggest commitment Government-run Transpennine can make in repaying this debt to the north is to appoint the only north east train manufacturer to build those new trains. There are many considerations that must be made when awarding a contract like this, but the law allows public contracts to be taken with consideration for social value – with consideration of how the services they commission and procure can improve the economic, social and environmental wellbeing of an area.

“Transpennine express have a duty to set out how they will meet these obligations.”

The Labour candidate met with Hitachi staff on a tour of the Newton Aycliffe factory earlier this year and saw the manufacturing work which keeps 750 people in work on site, alongside another 1,400 jobs indirectly. Hitachi contributes some £413m to the North East economy and is a key part of the region’s status as a manufacturing powerhouse.

But workers at the site have spent two years awaiting a government decision to extend their existing contract so they can build new rolling stock at this Newton Aycliffe factory in the UK.  On the tour of the factory Kim heard of the limited order book, with 57 trains worth of production currently left at the site.


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