Jobs may be saved by lifeline contract for Bombardier

Posted on 12 Sep 2011 by The Manufacturer

Some of the 1,400 jobs at risk at Bombardier’s train factory in Derby may be saved if the firm can secure a potential £120 million contract with the Government.

Bombardier Transportation UK is in talks with the Department for Transport (DfT) about a contract to upgrade diesel trains on the Cross Country Penzance-Aberdeen line to use a hybrid electrical power system.

The new contract, if approved, would provide some consolation for the UK’s last domestic train building company, following the fall-out over the Government’s decision to award the £1.4bn Thameslink train contract to Siemens.

Bombardier, which is led by chairman Colin Walton, Derby North MP Chris Williamson, other local MPs and the Derby Telegraph, campaigned to the Government to reverse the decision, which would make certain the loss of hundreds of jobs, potentially up to 1,400, at Bombardier.

The powerful campaign resonated with central Government and Transport Secretary Philip Hammond is under pressure from Prime Minister David Cameron to find a contract to help safeguard the factory. The train manufacturer is now carrying out a feasibility study into the project with the Government to put together a business case.

The Cross Country Voyager trains were originally built by Bombardier, making it an obvious candidate to carry out the refurbishment work.

Just a fraction of the size of Thameslink, the stop-gap contract would help keep the company ticking over while it plans its bid for the £1 billion Crossrail contract, the tender for which is expected to be released in the coming months.

The news has been welcomed by Bombardier.

It is understood the Government’s priority is to retain the train design team and supply chain expertise at Litchurch Lane until large orders return.

Colin Walton, chairman of Bombardier Transportation UK, said: “We very much welcome that the DfT is looking at a proposal to add electric power cars to the Voyager fleets and Bombardier will be pleased to participate in the development of a business case for this project.”

Speaking to the Derby Telegraph, Derby North MP Chris Williamson said the Cross Country work would be “a step in the right direction,” but he cautioned, “It’s good news, definitely, and a step in the right direction but it alone is not enough to secure Bombardier’s future.