Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn says that the Tyne and Wear metro fleet must be built in this country.

He spoke to ChronicleLive after a huge row broke out over reports that Hitachi, which has a plant in Newton Aycliffe, had lost its bid to build the £500m fleet.

It's been reported that Metro operator Nexus is to award the contract either to Spanish firm CAD or Swiss manufacturing giant Stadler, amid fears that Brexit uncertainty makes it impossible for the trains to be built in the UK.

 

Labour plans to invest £250 billion in infrastructure, including major transport schemes, if it wins the general election.

Mr Corbyn told us: "In the case of major infrastructure projects or anything related to security, you can require that its built in this country and we would absolutely do that.

"It is odd to put it mildly - Tyne and Wear Metro does need new trains, anyone who's been on the Tyne and Wear Metro will know that.

 

"You have an Hitachi factory just down the road that can make them, they should be making it, and not so far away you have have Bombardier in Derby and you have have Talgo opening a factory in Scotland.

"And so to say there’s not the train manufacturing capacity in the UK is simply not true.

"So yes of course they’ve got to be  manufactured in this country."

Mr Corbyn also said he backs plans for "clean air zones" to cut pollution, even if it means some motorists have to pay. Newcastle City Council is planning a zone which would impose charges on lorries, coaches, buses, vans and taxis, although - unlike in some other parts of the country - ordinary private motorists will not be hit.

The Labour leader said: "I think you have to take whatever measures you can."

 

He pointed out that a scrappage scheme was already in place in London, allowing people to get a discount on a low-emissions car in return for their old vehicle.

"We have to recognise that polluting the air, particularly with diesel pollution, is very damaging to our children's health.

 

"Children that breath in foul air alongside major roads sometimes lose 10 per of their lung capacity before they even start school, so it is serious.

"And I don't want to punish people for driving an old car but I do say that a properly funded scrappage scheme, as the last Labour govt introduce, would help with that."