Thursday 9 January 2020 7:36 pm

Hitachi Rail to slash 250 jobs at County Durham factory

Hitachi Rail has announced that it will cut 250 jobs from its train factory in County Durham.

The Newton Aycliffe plant, which opened in 2015, will make almost a quarter of its staff redundant following a 45-day consultation process with employees.

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The Japanese conglomerate said the cuts formed part of a plan to make the factory more “flexible, agile and globally competitive”, and insisted they were entirely unrelated to Brexit.

But officials at Unite union blamed the government for the job losses, saying they were caused by Hitachi’s difficulties winning major UK contracts.

In December the company signed a £350m deal to supply trains for Avanti West Coast, but earlier in the year missed out on a larger contract with the Tyne and Wear Metro.

“These redundancies need to be laid at the door of the government,” said Unite regional officer Pat McCourt.

“Its existing procurement policies mean that major contracts for new trains are too readily awarded to overseas companies, depriving factories in the UK of work.”

Hitachi said there could be opportunities for some of the affected staff to be redeployed in other parts of its rail business. 

It added that the company will invest roughly £8.5m in train welding and painting at the plant in order to expand its capabilities to a wider range of products, from trams and metros to commuter and high-speed trains.

Paul Howell, the newly-elected MP for Sedgefield, described the job losses as “disappointing”.

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“At this stage it is a consultation and I am assured that Hitachi will work with all parties to look at opportunities to mitigate the impact to employees,” he said in a social media post.

“I have spoken at length with Hitachi Rail and I have been personally assured that Hitachi Rail remains completely committed to Newton Aycliffe, the north east and the UK.”