Latest News | 18 April 2024

Thank you Team Derby!

Derby County Football Club
Alstom (formerly Bombardier)
East Midlands Chamber
Derby City Council
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‘Thank you Team Derby!’ – that is the message today from the group that created the ‘Save Our Trains – Do the Deal!’ campaign to save the city’s Alstom plant from closure.

Yesterday, Councillor Baggy Shanker, leader of Derby City Council and the council’s chief executive Paul Simpson, together with Marketing Derby managing director John Forkin, met with Nick Crossfield, Alstom’s managing director for the UK and Ireland, to hear of a positive meeting that he and colleagues from Paris had with Secretary of State for Transport Mark Harper in London on Tuesday.

The meeting was quickly followed by a letter from Mr Harper to Councillor Shanker, which revealed a commitment in principle to fund 10 new Elizabeth Line trains – the core ‘ask’ of the campaign – which would be enough to keep the facility alive.

More than 300 businesses and Bondholders signed up to the campaign, plus a further 200 from East Midlands Chamber.

Mr Forkin said: “We recognise deals like this are invariably done in intense work by the teams at Alstom, the Department for Transport and Transport for London.

“However, we have been told not to underestimate the valuable contribution made by the broad business and community support, and associated profile, in helping push it over the line.”

Councillor Shanker said: “Alstom can now commit to the site in the short and long term, protecting valuable manufacturing and engineering jobs in our city.

“I’m especially pleased that Alstom has committed to basing the new global Adessia commuter train platform here in Derby – that’s a real win.

“We will continue to press the Government for certainty as we really need to avoid this type of feast and famine approach to train building in the UK.”

The return of Parliament this week after a three-week break saw a massive amount of coverage of the issue in the local, regional and national media.

Businesses had written many letters to MPs and the Transport Secretary and other profile opportunities, such as Derby County promoting the campaign to 30,000 people at Pride Park Stadium on Saturday, all brought attention.

The Save Our Trains – Do the Deal campaign was launched after Alstom announced it had restarted a redundancy consultation due to manufacturing work drying up at Litchurch Lane.

A gaping hole in its order book meant that 1,300 jobs at the factory were at risk, and an estimated 15,000 in the supply chain.

The closure of the factory would have also brought an end to train manufacturing in Derby after 185 years.

The campaign urged the Government to commit to ordering 10 Aventra trains for the Elizabeth Line, enough to sustain Litchurch Lane until a contract to build trains for HS2 in 2026 kicked in.

The campaign distributed letters to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Mr Harper and Mr Crossfield, urging them to get the deal done as soon as possible.

The Government had committed to ordering five Elizabeth Line trains, and the campaign urged them to commit to a further five, making a total of 10.

Alstom has said it is now locked in “intense discussions” with the DfT after Mr Harper agreed “in principle” to ordering those extra five trains.

Mr Forkin said: “We will stand down the campaign but keep a hawk-eye on progress and believe me, if there is any sense of slippage or chicanery, we will be back.”

Scott Knowles, chief executive at East Midlands Chamber, said: “The strength of feeling among the East Midlands business community to save Litchurch Lane has been phenomenal and it’s no surprise that over 200 of our members joined businesses and Marketing Derby Bondholders to give their support so quickly.

“The factory’s importance at the heart of UK train manufacture – the only such site in the country where the entire process from blueprint to building, testing to trains on the tracks – cannot be understated.

“With uncertainty hanging over thousands of jobs in Derbyshire and many more in the wider national supply chain for many months now, there was concern across the East Midlands as talks led nowhere.

“The campaign spearheaded by Marketing Derby and the city council has been a pivotal moment in securing this pledge of support from the Department of Transport.

“At the very least this news is the strongest lifeline indicator yet that a workable solution is in reach, so I would urge the Government to get this deal approved and over the line, without further delay.”

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