Latest News | 11 April 2024

City unites to save train building

Alstom (formerly Bombardier)
Derby City Council
Rail Forum
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Marketing Derby, Derby City Council and hundreds of Bondholders are calling on the Government to act now and approve a solution to prevent the closure of Alstom’s city factory and save thousands of jobs.

Yesterday, John Forkin, managing director of the inward investment agency, wrote to Bondholders outlining the imminent threat posed to the future of the train-making in the city.

Within hours over 200 had given their support for the campaign to save the factory.

Alstom’s Litchurch Lane site is the nation’s largest train factory – in operation for 185 years – and is the only UK site where trains are designed, developed, built and tested.

At risk are 1,300 direct jobs in Derby and a further 15,000 jobs in supply chains across the country.

In his letter, Mr Forkin writes: “We urge the Government to approve the viable identified solution.

“The closure of Litchurch Lane would be terrible news for our city – most especially for those who work at the site and their families – as well as those who work for suppliers across the UK.

“It is not too late. A viable option for 10 new Aventra trains (as used on the Elizabeth Line) which Alstom and its supply chain can deliver immediately is available.”

Councillor Baggy Shanker, leader of Derby City Council said: “We are doing everything we can to save these jobs and the future of train manufacturing in Derby.

“Unfortunately, so far this has fallen on deaf ears, and we now need the wider Derby community to make their views known. We will not let 185 years be destroyed without a fight.”

Today the case has received national coverage in the Financial Times, which quotes Councillor Shanker and Mr Forkin, as well as Elaine Clarke from the Rail Forum, who expressed serious concerns about SMEs in the supply chain.  

Alstom needs to find work that can sustain the factory for the next 18 months to two years.

According to Nick Crossfield, Alstom’s managing director for the UK and Ireland, an order of just 10 trains would be enough to keep production going.

However, despite protracted talks with the Department for Transport, the company has received no firm commitment on orders, which could potentially fill the gap.

In his letter to Bondholders, Mr Forkin writes: “Alstom has been very clear it needs 10 Aventra trains to restart the production lines.

“The Government is only committing to five, despite knowing that Transport for London and South West Rail both need more Aventra trains.

“Furthermore, Alstom has also committed to design and build its successor to the Aventra, the Adessia, in Derby rather than abroad and indecision on this (and the timetable for HS2) is threatening the long-term future UK train design, manufacturing and export opportunities.

“We believe the Government can support the UK economy by playing an important strategic role in the procurement of rolling stock by approving the additional five Aventra trains immediately.

“Five trains to save 185 years of production – we urge the Government to act decisively and to act now.”

In an extensive interview with railway industry podcast Green Signals this week, Mr Crossfield said: “We are not unequivocally beyond the point of no return. But we are in a very difficult position.

“We’re a global business – from a group perspective, if there’s no commitment from the UK, we’ll put the investment somewhere else.”

Mr Crossfield said that the situation was already having an impact on the supply chain, adding that the process of people leaving the business had already begun.

Speaking about the possibility of Derby closing, he told the podcast: “Alstom will always remain committed to the UK market. We will bring fantastic product to the UK market, it’s just that that product will be produced somewhere else.

“We do need to think carefully about what kind of rolling stock supply chain we want in the UK going forwards.

“If we lost Derby totally and completely, we would be the only G7 country without a fully ‘soup to nuts’ rolling stock manufacturing capability.

“Derby is slightly unique – it is the only site in the UK which has design, development, engineering, manufacturing, test and delivery capability.

“If Derby goes, we will be importing that capability going forward.”

To watch the Green Signals interview with Mr Crossfield, visit

If you wish to join the campaign, please e-mail

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