Metro row as Nexus dismisses claims by Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen that Hitachi has missed out on £362million contract to build new trains

Transport chiefs have dismissed claims that a North East plant has been ruled out of the £362million contract to build the new fleet of Tyne and Wear Metro trains.

By Ross Robertson
Wednesday, 18th September 2019, 3:15 pm
A CGI image of how the new Metro trains could look
A CGI image of how the new Metro trains could look

The company faces competition from Spanish firm CAF and Stadler, a rail construction company headquartered in Switzerland.

The Hitachi plant employs 700 people and built the East Coast Mainline's new Azuma trains.

Work taking place on one of the new Virgin fleet at Hitachi. Picture by Hitachi/PA Wire.

It won a £400million order for new Midland main line carriages but failed to secure a £1.5billion London Underground contract and has no orders beyond spring 2020.

But Ben Houchen, the Conservative Tees Valley mayor, has claimed the company has lost out to CAF, condemning it as “madness”.

His claim has, however, been dismissed by Nexus, the public body which owns and manages the Metro system.

Mr Houchen said: “Let's take a breath to make sure the right choice is made, because at the moment this is the wrong decision.

"Trains built locally by Hitachi Rail can be found on railways around the world, but because of this horrendous decision this is being put at risk."

Nexus issued a statement in response confirming the bidding process is still underway, with no decision due until January 2020.

A spokesman 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.”

The first new Metro trains are expected to arrive in late 2021. These will come as a godsend to regular passengers who have become frustrated by the increasingly unreliable system.