A £500 million contract to build trains for a Metro system has been won by a Spanish firm which beat a British factory 30 miles away from the buyers, an elected mayor has said.
Ben Houchen, the Conservative Tees Valley mayor, has called for a rethink after the Hitachi Rail Newton Aycliffe plant in County Durham failed to land the major deal to design, build and maintain new trains for the Tyne and Wear Metro system.
He called the decision “appalling” and said the local councils which “have complete control over this contract” failed to protect jobs.
Mr Houchen said: “Because of incompetence by the Tyne and Wear councils, the new Nexus trains will be built by a foreign company, rather than one just down the road.
“We must stop this madness.”
He said the deal has not been officially announced, so there is still time to review the decision.
Mr Houchen added: “I’m calling on the Tyne and Wear councils to pause on the awarding of this contract and to review this perverse decision, and I implore other local leaders and MPs to back this call.
“I’ve always done all I can to award local businesses contracts that are within my control. It is right that we put local people first.
“The Tyne and Wear councils should do the same. 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, the public body which owns and manages the Tyne Wear Metro, said the bidding process is ongoing, with three firms being considered, and the winner will be announced in the new year.
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