Belfast Telegraph

Cable in Bombardier talks as train maker faces tough future

By Alan Jones

The Business Secretary has met officials from train builder Bombardier to discuss its plans after losing a lucrative Government contract, leading to the loss of 1,400 jobs.

Vince Cable also held talks with Derby council and members of the economic task force set up to deal with the job losses, announced after Bombardier lost out to German firm Siemens to build carriages for the Thameslink route.

Bombardier also has an aerospace wing based in Canada, with a facility in east Belfast at the former Shorts site.

During the visit to Derby, Mr Cable said: "We will work closely with Bombardier, during their ongoing review, as they explore opportunities to keep their manufacturing base in the UK in the long-term. There is evidence of growth in Derby and the surrounding areas."

Dr Cable also announced that Derbyshire-based motorbike-maker Norton Motorcycles will boost production after receiving a Government-backed trade loan under the Exports Enterprise Finance Guarantee Scheme.

The funding will support the company's plans to increase production to 1,000 motorcycles a year and will benefit Norton's supply chain, of which 80% is British.

The Business Secretary said: "This iconic company, whose brand once inspired a generation of motorcycle enthusiasts, is a prime example of British business innovation.

"I hope that many more companies are inspired by what Norton is going to achieve through this funding."

Norton said it plans to double its workforce to 60 full-time staff by 2012 and significantly extend its factory.

A spokesman for the Rail Maritime and Transport union said: "Instead of warm words and crocodile tears, what the workforce at Bombardier want from Vince Cable is an explicit commitment that his Government will reverse the scandalous decision to award the Thameslink contract to Siemens in Germany.

"The Thameslink contract is not yet signed off and Vince Cable should take note of the mass public anger at the way this entire stitch-up has been handled and, rather than wheeling out a catalogue of excuses, award the work to Bombardier and save train-building in the nation that gave the railways to the world."