Durham council chiefs hit out after reports Hitachi has missed out on Metro contract - but transport bosses dismiss rumours

Council chiefs have raised concerns over unconfirmed reports a County Durham rail firm has missed the chance to build the new Tyne and Wear Metro fleet.

Wednesday, 18th September 2019, 4:29 pm
Updated Thursday, 19th September 2019, 12:20 pm
Azuma Crossing Durham Viaduct SOURCE: LNER/CREST PHOTOGRAPHY
Azuma Crossing Durham Viaduct SOURCE: LNER/CREST PHOTOGRAPHY

But reports – which have been dismissed by Metro operator Nexus – have claimed the Japanese company failed to secure the order, meaning it will be contested by Spanish firm CAF and Swiss train maker Stadler.

“I note the welcome arrival of the Azuma trains to [County Durham],” said Coun Fraser Tinsley, who represents Durham County Council’s (DCC) Willington and Hunwick division.

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“But if it is true what has been reported, that Hitachi has lost out on a £500million contract for the new Nexus trains, I would like to record my anger at that decision.

“I represent people who work at Hitachi and it is with extreme disappointment that I hear this.”

Coun Tinsley was speaking at a DDC full council meeting on September 18 after council leader Simon Henig praised the ‘special moment’ Azuma trains returned to the North East to run on the East Coast Mainline this summer, following their assembly in Newton Aycliffe.

A spokesman for Nexus, the organisation which owns and runs the Tyne and Wear Metro, said: “The procurement of our new train fleet is an ongoing process. We cannot comment on any details of the respective bids from Hitachi Rail, Stadler, or CAF at this stage. The successful bidder will be officially announced in January.”

A Hitachi spokeswoman declined to comment while procurement is ongoing.

The first new Metro trains are expected to arrive in late 2021, with the aim of giving passengers a more comfortable and reliable transport network.

The service has been dogged by delays and outages in recent years, and it is expected the new trains – replacing the 1980s-era carriages – will put an end to many of the problems.