Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Wolmar on the nail!

This from the World's Greatest Living Transport Correspondent, writing in today's Grauniad...

It is difficult not to be pessimistic and see this as the end of an era stretching back nearly two centuries. However, the failure to give the contract to a home-based company is playing badly in the Tory party. It gives the lie to Cameron’s promise to support British manufacturing jobs.

Train travel is booming and there is an obvious lack of rolling stock. With a bit of will, extra carriages could be ordered to lengthen existing trains and possibly give hope to Bombardier that it should hold on with the prospect of getting the large Crossrail order in the middle of the decade.

It is not a lost cause, but it will take a fierce and vocal lobby to effect another Cameron U-turn. Steam will never return to Litchurch Lane, but perhaps, just perhaps, train manufacturing may remain there if enough pressure can be built up.


UPDATE: This from Steve Strong...

The Financial Times made the same point today:

There is, nevertheless, consensus that the government could take one measure to protect the Derby factory’s health. Bombardier won the UK’s last big train order, for the Stansted Express. But the order was placed in February 2009.

The Derby and Derbyshire Rail Forum, an industry group, insists such long gaps between orders contributed to Tuesday’s announcement. “The proposal to reduce Bombardier’s Derby workforce . . .  points . . . to the failure by successive governments . . . to address the peaks and troughs of rolling stock demand,” it said.

It appears that those who stuff the envelopes and those that open them have all been guilty of willful neglect.

UPDATE: This from Kelvin Chain...

Several industry observers have commented on Bombardier's dogged refusal to lobby "enthusiastically" for its Derby plant.

Compare this with Hitachi where Hammond quipped that the Japanese Ambassador had his own chair in the Secretary of State's office!

Hammond's envelope opening may have cost Bombardier both the IEP and Thameslink fleets but other opportunities remain.

There are 105 Class 220/221/222 sets all ready for the addition of a power car to enable them to use the wires and create much needed additional capacity.

There is also the need to replace the deeply loathed Pacers and make a start on a structured programme to replace the 15x fleets before they fall foul of the DDA regulations in 2020.

With Hammond, Cable and Cameron facing a growing backbench backlash over their assassination of the UK's last train manufacturer now is the time for Derby to start lobbying!

UPDATE: This from a Mr Tony Miles...

Didn't I see Transport Minister Theresa Villiers enthusiastically applauding Roger Ford's call for the electric vehicles for the 220/221/222 sets when she was stood on stage at the Modern Railways Innovation Awards last month?

Clearly a supporter and Bombardier must recruit her to their campaign team at once!

UPDATE: This from The Major...

I’m having a ‘senior moment’.

Can somebody remind me where Bombardier built the Voyagers?

I’m sure it was abroad...

UPDATE: This from Corporal Pike...

Indeed, the train building community in Bruges await the order for additional vehicles for 220/221/222 sets with baited breath.

As I'm sure do Eurotunnel!

UPDATE: This from a most insistent Mr Miles...

The class 221 units were built by Bombardier at their Bruges (Belgium) AND Horbury (Wakefield) plants with Alstom Onix propulsion kit made in Preston.

So, OK, that's another closed Bombardier facility but if Alstom can switch from making Pendolinos in Birmingham to Italy then Bombardier can make additional vehicles for the 22X trains wherever it likes, especially Derby.

And maybe create some more work for the excellent folk at Preston at the same time.

Eye applauds any solution that meets the Prime Minister's previously stated desire for a UK 'Manufacturing Revival'.