A NORTH-EAST train builder remains in the running to build a new fleet of Tyne and Wear Metro trains.

Nexus, the public body which owns and manages the Tyne and Wear Metro, has announced that Newton Aycliffe-based Hitachi is one of the three firms that remain in the running to design, build and maintain its new train fleet.

CAF and Stadler are the other two. The winning bid will be announced in January 2020.

Nexus expects to see the first new trains arriving in late 2021, from which point the phased withdrawal of its existing Metro fleet will begin.

Ross Nagle, chief operating officer in manufacturing at Hitachi Rail, said: “As a North East train builder we are delighted to reach the final shortlist of bidders to build a new fleet for the Tyne and Wear Metro. We want to be part of this major infrastructure project which will boost the regional economy and improve thousands of journeys every day.

“Since 2015 we have become embedded in the region by investing £100 million in our state-of-the-art factory in County Durham whilst supporting hundreds of jobs in the local supply chain.”

Tobyn Hughes, managing director of Nexus, said: “This is another hugely important step towards delivering a new fleet of trains for the Tyne and Wear Metro.

“We are down to the final three bidders. Each firm has a proven track record of building trains for railway systems throughout the world.

“We have carefully evaluated the bids and will now begin the final stage of the process where bids will be refined. Bidders will then come back with best and final offers and we will sit down and pick a preferred bidder.

“The winner will then start the task of designing and building 42 new trains, which will transform the passenger experience of the Metro system.”

The successful bidder will also be responsible for maintaining the current fleet of trains to ensure there is a smooth transition between the old and new fleet between 2022 and 2024.