Posted 15th November 2011 | 4 Comments

Villiers visit disappoints Derby demonstrators

Train building at Litchurch Lane -- but the last of the present contracts will be completed in 2014

Train building at Litchurch Lane -- but the last of the present contracts will be completed in 2014

A VISIT to Derby by the transport minister Theresa Villiers has disappointed people in the city, because she gave no undertakings about more work for the Bombardier train-building works at Litchurch Lane.

Ms Villiers had originally been due to make a speech in Derby on 3 November at the annual conference of the Derby & Derbyshire Rail Forum, but pulled out at the last moment in favour of dealing with a matter in her constituency. She was accused of being reluctant to face her critics in Derby, following the decision in June to award the £1.4 billion Thameslink rolling stock contract to Siemens instead.

A large fleet of subsurface trains is being built in Derby at the moment for London Underground, but the last of those trains is due to be completed in 2014, when as things stand Litchurch Lane would run out of projects.

Although Bombardier failed to win the Thameslink competition, hopes had started to rise when Ms Villiers arrived yesterday, because discussions are under way about two contracts, which although much smaller would bring much-needed work.

One is a proposal to add a pantograph car to 57 CrossCountry Voyager units, converting them into bi-modal trains, while Southern has just launched a procurement process to acquire another 130 electric multiple unit vehicles, which Bombardier supporters hope could be more Electrostars to add to Southern's already substantial Derby-built fleet.

Union leaders expressed their disappointment after Ms Villers' non-committal visit. An RMT spokesman said there had been 'no point to it', while UNITE described it as 'wasted'.

However, Bombardier has had some better news, with the announcement that ScotRail has placed a £15 million contract with the company which extends an existing agreement to 9 November 2014.

It covers support and supply of spares for the ScotRail Class 170 Turbostar fleet, which consists of more than 170 vehicles. Bogie overhauls will be carried out at the Bombardier works in Crewe.

Des McKeon, who is Bombardiers' commercial director for services, described the signing of the ScotRail contract as 'a significant win'.

Reader Comments:

Views expressed in submitted comments are that of the author, and not necessarily shared by Railnews.

  • John Gilbert, Cradley, Herefordshire, England

    The UK will always do something stupidly rather than sensibly. And the politicians and civil servants in London, especially the latter I have come to believe, love playing cat and mouse with the hapless industries and workpeople of this country - by which I mean England - for Scotland is somewhat separate now, luckily for them. It is not just the Tories, though they are the worst; ALL English politicians and civil servants are as bad as the others. Now I wonder how long they will "look at" plans to produce an electrified Voyager before doing anything about it? And of course while it would be utter imbecility to electrify the Cross-Country Voyagers BUT NOT those operated by Virgin, that will be precisely what they will authorise. What one might call the stupid option. Better than nothing but still absurd on its own.

  • jak jay, sutton, united kingdom

    Never forget it was the tories,more specfically that rat John Major
    who privatised the railways leading to the gigantic carve-up,gravy train for the
    present disaster.

  • David, Guildford, Surrey

    Too scared to face voters maybe?
    Government claims to want to get growth going but fails to do so when it can.
    Its much like me saying i want to save the pandas yet eating one everyday for dinner.

  • Melvyn Windebank, Canvey Island, Essex, England

    The last time the Tories were in power a visit from one of them was often followed by that company going out of business!!!