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HomeRolling StockProduction lines stop at Derby's Alstom site

Production lines stop at Derby’s Alstom site

Urgent calls have been made to secure thousands of jobs at Alstom’s Derby site after production lines stopped due to a lack orders in the immediate future.

Nick Crossfield, Managing Director of Alstom UK & Ireland, said: “We have worked constructively with the Government on securing a sustainable future for Derby Litchurch Lane, but after ten months of discussions we have run out of time, and the production lines have stopped.

“We will now consult with our staff, with trades unions and with our UK supply chain to provide as much certainty as we can.”

The demobilising of manufacturing operations is due to a lack of workload between the end of Alstom UK’s current orders (the final ‘Aventra’ train was completed on Thurs 21 March) and HS2 manufacturing (which is expected to start in mid-2026, though there is no commitment on the HS2 delivery timetable from the Government).

Discussions over the past ten months have failed to identify a package of workload to fill this production gap. 

Commenting on an ITV article, Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Unite will not stand by while the Government puts thousands of jobs at risk.

“There is a huge amount of work that Alstom could and should be bidding for, but the Government are simply not tendering for it and do not seem to care.

“Alstom and the Government now need to stop endlessly procrastinating and just get on and sign the contracts to ensure the security of thousands of highly skilled workers.

“If their inaction does lead to job cuts, the responsible people will be held to account personally.”

In December Nick Crossfield warned that in six weeks the company will go from an annual output of 650 cars employing 3,000 people to zero. In November, Alstom announced it had started a consultation which will involve potential redundancies of 550 Alstom permanent employees. 780 contractors are also at potential risk.

An article in The Times says “Alstom has now given the government formal notice of the factory’s closure. Job losses are also expected in the surrounding railway supply chain”.

In correspondence that has been seen by The Times, Nick Crossfield, is said to have accused Transport Secretary Mark Harper of a lack of strategic decision-making and urgency. The two men had met last week.

In an article on Rail Business Daily earlier in March, Alstom said the new build production of the Aventra fleet programme completed in March, with testing of the new trains and services and maintenance work on existing fleets due to take place at the company’s Litchurch Lane site in Derby. The new issue now is around a gap in orders, with the medium to long-term work actually quite an attractive market.

However, there are potential new build and refurbishment projects that can be brought forward to enable work to start quickly, together with longer-term competitive procurements that rolling stock manufacturers can bid for.

It had been hoped an agreement could be found with Government in March, with it hoped Alstom would be able to commit to bringing its next generation of commuter train – Adessia – to Derby where it can be designed, engineered, built and tested on site for both domestic and export markets.

Railway Industry Association Chief Executive Darren Caplan said: “Railway Industry Association members feel that the last year has provided little in the way of opportunity for rolling stock manufacturers and the wider supply chain, and this Easter things are no more certain. Already this year a number of SMEs have gone into administration, due to a lack of decisions being taken and orders being place. We ask the Government to recognise these developments as the canary in the coalmine and take urgent action. 

“It has been more than three years since the last mainline train procurement and the lack of commitment to new orders for rolling stock in the UK means that more rail suppliers face the prospect of job losses and factory closures, with an adverse impact right across the supply chain. 

“RIA and our members continue to urge the Government to act now and issue an order for trains which could be deployed widely across the network. These are ‘no-regrets’ decisions as they do not require any upfront taxpayer investment, but still result in a broad range of benefits, from retaining jobs to immediate sustainability improvement and a better passenger experience. We hope this call for action is heeded quickly.”

Less than a fortnight ago, Campaign for Better Transport wrote to the Secretary of State for Transport, Mark Harper, urging him to end uncertainty by guaranteeing that rail manufacturing will continue at the Alstom factory in Derby.

The charity also called on Mark Harper to commit to developing a strategy to ensure a consistent pipeline of rolling stock manufacturing.

In the letter, Paul Tuohy, CEO at Campaign for Better Transport, writes: “You have been a strong and passionate exponent of growth on our network, supporting and celebrating Restoring Your Railways, with stations and lines reopening across the country from Dartmoor to Northumberland and many more to come. But these lines need trains, the industry needs certainty and, with the climate emergency the issue of our time, long term clarity and investment in public transport has to be an immediate priority, not a last-ditch afterthought.”

Mr Tuohy adds: “What message would it send if Derby, at the heart of rolling stock production from locomotives in the 1850s to Intercity 125s and amazing Elizabeth Line stock in recent years, the city chosen to be the HQ of Great British Railways, saw its finest factory cease operations in 2024?”

In the last ten years over 8,000 new vehicles have been ordered by operators across the country.

A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “Rail manufacturing plays an important role in growing the UK economy and delivering better services for passengers.

“The Government is committed to supporting the entire sector and we remain in close contact with Alstom to secure a sustainable future for rail manufacturing at Derby.”

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