Belfast Telegraph

Controversial rail contract decision has 'put thousands of jobs at risk'

By Alan Jones

The controversial decision to award a lucrative train-building contract to German firm Siemens has placed the future of UK-based rail manufacturing in "serious jeopardy", the Government has been warned.

Unions are telling the Transport Select Committee that thousands of jobs are at risk after Derby-based arm of Bombardier missed out on the work to build trains for the Thameslink route which runs from Bedford to Brighton through London.

Bombardier also has an aerospace manufacturing plant in Belfast.

Around 1,400 jobs will be lost at Bombardier, but unions claim that another 1,600 jobs will go if the company decides to leave England, while up to 12,000 positions in the supply chain will also be at risk.

In written evidence submitted to the committee, unions point out that Britain's railways are "booming", with passenger numbers increasing, trains overcrowded, running late and "completely unsuitable" for some routes.

"Much of the existing rolling stock needs to be replaced and the current pool of vehicles needs to be expanded rapidly to cope with increasing demand.

"The future of Bombardier's factory should therefore be secure, but it is not," said the unions.

Unite and the Rail Maritime and Transport union have warned that scores of firms which deal with Bombardier will be forced to cut jobs, after a study among 125 companies supplying Bombardier found that almost half relied on the firm for 5% of sales, while a similar number relied almost entirely on the manufacturer.

A delegation of Bombardier workers, councillors and business leaders were due to travel on a specially commissioned Bombardier-built train from the east Midlands to London to press the Government for a U-turn.