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Train refurbishment firm’s closure plan puts about 100 jobs at risk

Wabtec is planning to shut its base in Kilmarnock, East Ayrshire, and ‘consolidate’ its operations in Doncaster, South Yorkshire.

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Wabtec has helped refurbish recent Abellio ScotRail and ScotRail models (Jane Barlow/PA)

Wabtec has helped refurbish recent Abellio ScotRail and ScotRail models (Jane Barlow/PA)

Wabtec has helped refurbish recent Abellio ScotRail and ScotRail models (Jane Barlow/PA)

Around 100 jobs are under threat with the proposed closure of a train carriage refurbishment firm in East Ayrshire.

Wabtec is planning to “consolidate” its operations in Doncaster, South Yorkshire, following a reduction in orders.

The plans would result in the closure of its Kilmarnock base – originally opened as Andrew Barclay and Sons in 1840 – which has helped refurbish recent Abellio ScotRail and ScotRail models.

In November 2017, the rail firm was awarded a train refurbishment contract worth around £8 million, funded by the Scottish Government.

Unite regional industrial officer Paul Bennett has criticised the planned closure.

We are dismayed by this decision and believe it to be completely prematurePaul Bennett, Unite

He said: “The Wabtec site in Kilmarnock is steeped in history since opening as Andrew Barclay and Sons in 1840 as an engineering workshop.

“It was only recently Wabtec was saying that was it fully committed to the long-term success of its Kilmarnock facility and that it planned to ‘invest accordingly’.

“We are dismayed by this decision and believe it to be completely premature.

“That’s why we are demanding that the company work with us to explore every avenue to bring in more work.”

He added: “Unite is also asking the Scottish Government to offer every support it can to keep the yard open in order to ensure that jobs can be supported in Kilmarnock and that some manufacturing footprint for our rail industry is still left in Scotland.”

A spokesman for Wabtec confirmed to the PA news agency it was a business decision from the last few years at the site and not related to the current coronavirus pandemic.

He said: “Wabtec announced last week its intention to close its manufacturing operations at its Scottish Wheelset and Vehicle Overhaul facility in Kilmarnock.

“Decisions like this are never easy but over the past few years our site has experienced reduced volume and this decrease is no longer sustainable.

“This decision will help to simplify and optimise the company’s manufacturing footprint in today’s cyclical environment, as well as better position Wabtec for success.

“The company remains fully committed to all customer commitments and providing impacted employees with resources and benefits to manage the transition.”

PA