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Nexus says ‘no decision made’ on Metro contract amid claims Hitachi Rail has missed out

Tyne and Wear Metro bosses have denied reports the operator has snubbed a North East trainbuilder for a £362 million rolling stock deal.

Nexus says it has made “no decision about who might be awarded the contract” amid reports Hitachi Rail, based in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, has been overlooked in favour of a foreign rival.

Officials at the public body added the successful bidder will be announced in the new year, once “detailed and thorough evaluation has taken place.”

Hitachi, known for making rolling stock for the East Coast and Great Western routes under the Government’s InterCity Express Programme, was shortlisted alongside Spanish firm CAF and Swiss-headquartered Stadler to design and build the new Metro trains.

Reports have suggested the company has been overlooked for the deal, but Nexus says such claims are premature.

Hitachi Rail told North East Times it is unable to comment on the matter at this stage.

However, responding to the reports, a Nexus spokesperson said: “The procurement of our new fleet is an ongoing process, and we have made no decision about who might be awarded the contract to design and build new trains.

“We will not comment on any details of the respective bids from the final three companies involved – Hitachi Rail, Stadler or CAF – at this stage.

“The successful bidder will be announced in the new year when we have completed detailed and thorough evaluation.

“The successful bidder will design, build and maintain a fleet and maintenance facilities that will serve Metro for 35 years, as well as a new depot constructed at the existing site in Gosforth, Newcastle.

“Our detailed specification takes account of consultation with more than 3000 Metro passengers in 2016 and 2017, followed by market engagement with trainbuilders to refine the plans.

“The three shortlisted bidders are challenged to design trains which will operate efficiently and robustly, supplying a step change in Metro availability and performance, with a bright modern appearance.”

Earlier in the year, Hitachi revealed in July it had secured a £400 million contract to supply 33 five-carriage trains to operator Abellio UK.

The intercity fleet, which will be made at Hitachi’s Newton Aycliffe plant, will run on the East Midlands Railway franchise, which serves cities including London, Sheffield, Nottingham, Derby and Leicester.

Bosses say the stock, which will secure and support hundreds of jobs at Hitachi’s North East base, will start operating in 2022.

They added the trains will be able to run using electric and diesel power.

The business has also been responsible for making Scottish rolling stock, known as Class 385s, for lines between Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Although headquartered in northern Spain, CAF has bases around the world, which include an assembly and testing plant in Newport, Wales, and a further site in Coventry.

It is known for work on rolling stock across the UK, with its order book featuring an agreement to supply 66 passenger cars for the TransPennine Express franchise and new trains for Arriva UK across the North West.

It has also supplied trams to Birmingham and Edinburgh.

Stadler runs its UK operations out of Liverpool through its Stadler Rail Service UK Limited subsidiary.

Bosses say the operation is responsible for maintaining and cleaning Merseyrail stock, adding it will introduce a new train in 2021.