Posted 22nd April 2024 | 3 Comments

Relief in Derby as new train order heads for Alstom

Derby City Council has revealed a letter from transport secretary Mark Harper which offers new hope for the Alstom works at Litchurch Lane, where ten trains for the Elizabeth Line are now set to be built, after a proposed order for five had been doubled to ten and ‘approved in principle’.

It is hoped that the order for about 90 cars, worth at least £200 million, will secure jobs at the site until Derby starts building Alstom’s new Adessia commuter trains, possibly for export as well as domestic operators.

Alstom had been considering closing Derby because it had run out of work, where there are 1300 staff as well as many more on contract. Thousands of jobs in supply chain companies were also at risk, endangering Derby’s proud boast that it has the ‘biggest cluster of railway businesses’ in Europe at least, if not the world.

Rail minister Huw Merriman wrote to the industry at the end of January, setting out plans for four train orders. One of them, for state-owned Southeastern, could be placed by the end of this year, but that would not have been soon enough to keep Litchurch Lane in business until then.

Derby council leader Baggu Shanker said: ‘Alstom can now commit to the site in the short and long term, protecting valuable manufacturing and engineering jobs in our city. I'm especially pleased that Alstom has committed to basing the new global Adessia commuter train platform here in Derby - that's a real win.

‘We will continue to press the Government to complete the deal and commit to keeping this industry alive in the city, especially for the 1300 jobs that are at risk. Without these orders and the promise of future support, we will lose train-making in the UK forever and put almost two centuries of local rail heritage at risk.

‘As a city, we’ll continue to work closely with our partners at Alstom and with the secretary of state to bridge this gap and keep train making in Derby. The Government needs to ensure rail procurement is better planned in the future to avoid this feast and famine approach to train building.’

However, some Alstom workers remain to be convinced. Production manager and Unite rep Darren Spencer told the Guardian: ‘I don’t think we’re there yet: if you read the wording from the government, there’s caveats in there, there’s get out of jail cards. We’re by no means out of the woods yet.’

Reader Comments:

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

  • Miles Thomas, MBCS, London

    As well as extra trains for Lizzie, why not also extra carriages for the existing trains? With Toilets?

    My understanding is there is passive provision across key parts of the route (especially the tunnelled core) for a train with one more carriage--would need amendments to the platform screen doors at those stations, and some stations would be "selective door opening" with the last carriage not available for boarding/leaving (hardly a problem for walk through trains).

    Clearly the new carriage with toilet would be in the middle, and would also be prioritised for wheelchair use.

  • Greg T, London

    This is a "promise" from a man (Harper) who is known to loathe railways & from a party (tories) who also hate railways ...
    Mr Merriman is probably honest - he's known to be pro-rail ...
    But I would agree with those Alstom workers who are sceptical

  • Andrew Gwilt, Rayleigh Essex

    That would mean another 20 Class 345 9-Car trains to be built to save Alstom from losing its 1,300 jobs at Litchurch Lane train factory. Sounds reasonable considering that HS2 is to temporarily terminate at Old Oak Common whilst construction of Euston HS2 is still under construction.

    Why not manufacture few more extra Class 710/3s to be used on the North London Line and Euston-Watford line and perhaps to start mass production on the new tube trains for the London Underground Bakerloo Line. If Alstom were to win the contract to build and manufacture new tube stocks to replace the 1972 Stock.
    [It will be 10 trains for the Elizabeth Line, not 20. As for other TfL orders, it doesn't look like the budgets will be available -- at least not for some time.--Ed.]