UK Transport Sector At Risk

Staff
By Staff
3 Min Read

With declines in orders and a lack of investment, two of the largest rail manufacturers in the UK are being forced to mothball factories and increase redundancies. This could mean the end of the UK rail sector.

The UK’s largest rail assembly factory, Alstom’s train building site in Derby, has confirmed it is resuming a redundancy process for 1,300 workers. It has given formal notice to the government that it has started mothballing its Litchurch Lane factory.

With no meaningful workload and a decrease in investments in the site, up to 17,000 jobs could be lost factoring in the supply chain.

Similarly, Hitachi Rail in the UK is currently reviewing “all remaining options” after it stated that no solution has been found to plug a gap in train orders. With no work on the horizon due to a staggering decline in orders at its plant in Newton Aycliffe (County Durham), workers’ contracts are at risk.

This threatens the UK’s rail manufacturing as we know it. UK trade unions Unite and RMT have urged ministers to intervene urgently.

Unite’s General Secretary, Sharon Graham, said: “Ministers talk a good game about levelling up. The fact is, however, that at both Hitachi in Newton Aycliffe and Alstom in Derby, workers are in disbelief that ministerial incompetence is delaying announcements that would safeguard highly skilled jobs.”

RMT General Secretary, Mick Lynch, wrote to members about the situation in Derby, stressing that “It is appalling that the company is using the situation as a cost-saving exercise, selling off assets and making redundancies at a time it should be reinvesting in a skilled engineering workforce and retaining industry expertise. The government must also take responsibility for the situation.”

The European rail supply industry employs 659,000 people in the design, manufacturing and maintenance of rail equipment, including locomotive and rolling stock, rail infrastructure, signalling and electrification products. This industry is instrumental to reach energy and climate objectives that require a massive reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in the transport sector in the coming years.

Judith Kirton-Darling, General Secretary of industriAll Europe, says “The UK has a proud history of train building. Within industriAll Europe, we stand in solidarity with our UK affiliates and members fighting to maintain this industry and these vital jobs today – jobs which underpin the ecological transformation of our transport systems. More broadly, the rail equipment industry urgently needs an industrial strategy in the UK and across Europe. It’s not receiving the attention it deserves.”

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