Rachel Reeves insists Labour 'will deliver' on promise to save County Durham Hitachi train factory

Chancellor Rachel Reeves visits the Darlington Economic Campus.
-Credit: (Image: Kirsty O'Connor / Treasury)

Rachel Reeves has insisted that Labour is “determined” to save under-threat jobs at a North East train factory and "will deliver".

The new party of government has pledged repeatedly over recent months that it would take swift action to safeguard the Hitachi Rail plant in County Durham if it came to power. Having previously claimed that the Newton Aycliffe facility’s future could be secured “with the stroke of a pen”, Labour’s first week in power has yet to produce a firm announcement on Hitachi’s fate.

The Department for Transport told the Local Democracy Reporting Service earlier this week that the new government was “urgently exploring options” to save the factory. And, speaking on a visit to the Treasury’s Darlington campus on Thursday, the Chancellor insisted that Sir Keir Starmer’s administration was “determined we won’t lose those jobs and lose those skills”.

She said: “You know my commitment to Hitachi, I have been there on a number of occasions – as has the Prime Minister and the new transport secretary, Louise Haigh. We are absolutely determined to keep those good jobs at Hitachi.”

Ms Reeves had pledged during the election campaign that Labour would make variations to Hitachi’s current contracts to head off a looming production gap that has threatened jobs at the site, which has a 750-strong workforce. She also said that Labour would “bring forward new procurement that Hitachi can bid for and are confident that they can win”.

However, Conservatives have previously questioned Labour’s claims on how quickly the situation could be resolved – with former Sedgefield MP Paul Howell having accused them of pushing a “completely misleading” plan.

Ms Reeves added during her first visit to the North East as Chancellor on Thursday: “I know Louise Haigh is already working with the Department for Transport to look at the options available. But, unlike the last government, we are not going to sit on our hands and allow good jobs paying decent wages, that are so important for the North East economy, to disappear. We will do everything we can to protect those jobs. As we promised in opposition, we will deliver in government.”

Hitachi bosses said earlier this week that they “look forward to meeting with the new government very soon to assess available solutions to maintain jobs and skills at Newton Aycliffe”. Safeguarding the future of the Hitachi plant was top of a wish list sent by North East mayor Kim McGuinness to Sir Keir Starmer following Labour’s landslide general election win.