Thursday, February 29, 2024

Just weeks left to save Derby train manufacturing

A lobby of Parliament has heard from the UK boss of train-maker Alstom that there could be just weeks left to save nearly 180 years of train manufacturing in Derby.

Managing Director of Alstom in the UK & Ireland, Nick Crossfield, made the prediction at the lobby after appearing at a meeting of a select committee on rail rolling stock.

Production lines at the firm’s Litchurch Lane site are set to come to a halt due to a lack of orders for new train fleets from the UK rail sector. The lobby, attended by members of both houses, as well as city and business leaders, was convened to call on the Government to act.

Mr Crossfield told the lobby: “We are at a most critical stage and if we do not get clarity and commitment in the next two to three weeks then we are in a very different environment. Long term, the UK rail market is the second largest in Europe. The question is, how does Britain want to get those trains?”

Councillor Baggy Shanker, leader of Derby City Council, said: “The lobby was well attended and together Team Derby has highlighted just how urgent and critical it is for the Government to take action promptly to secure the immediate future of rail manufacturing in Derby. We all now anxiously wait for a decision from the Secretary of State for Transport.”

Speaking at the lobby, John Forkin, Managing Director of Marketing Derby, said: “The Bondholder business community of Derby stands in full support of Alstom and its suppliers.

“The short-term threat is real – and we must protect those thousands of jobs. We’ve been here before – and we need an industrial strategy that puts the rail sector at its heart.”

Alstom, and its unions, have been in talks with the Department for Transport for months in an attempt to persuade it to bring forward contracts to safeguard the jobs of hundreds of workers at the Litchurch Lane factory and thousands more in the UK supply chain.

It has been supported by management at Transport for London, which wants Alstom to build additional trains for the capital’s Elizabeth Line.

Rail sector experts also believe there is desperately needed refurbishment work for current rail fleets in passenger service that could be commissioned into Derby.

City leaders have been working closely with Alstom, Unite and senior government officials to explore potential resolutions to the current situation since possible job cuts were revealed back in September.

At the lobby, local MPs of different political hues came together to discuss the crisis. Also present was Lord McLoughlin, himself a former Transport Secretary, who spoke about the skills that existed in Derby, the importance of the supply chain and the quality of trains the city produces, particularly for the Elizabeth Line.

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