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Trainmaker given hope of reprieve

Britain's last remaining trainmaker could be saved from closure if the Government hands it a lucrative contract to upgrade an existing fleet of trains.

Around 1,400 jobs are set to be lost at Derby-based Bombardier following the recent controversial decision to award an extensive train-building contract to German firm Siemens instead of its UK counterparts.

The company may now have been offered a lifeline following news that the Department for Transport (DfT) is looking to upgrade the existing fleet of diesel Cross Country Voyager trains to electric carriages.

An order for 57 electric-powered trains is contained in plans to add an additional carriage with a pantograph, enabling upgraded trains to run using electric power provided by overhead lines.

Bombardier, who built the diesel Cross Country Voyager trains in the first place, is carrying out an initial study with Cross Country Trains, the Voyager leasing company and Network Rail on behalf of the DfT to look at whether the project is technically feasible and whether it would be a good business case.

If the project goes ahead and the work on the Cross Country rail line, which runs from Penzance to Aberdeen, is handed to Bombardier it is possible the plant and workers could be saved.

Since the announcement that Bombardier missed out on the work to build trains for the Thameslink route, thousands of people have publicly lent their support to the rail manufacturers.

Bombardier is the UK's last major trainmaking company. It recently lost out to Hitachi of Japan for a huge UK inter-city express train contract and most of its current contract work will come to an end in the autumn.

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