Transport for London (TfL), Alstom and the Unite union have released a letter to the UK’s transport secretary Mark Harper asking him to confirm funding for an order of new trains for the Elizabeth line in the hope it could help fill a gap at the rail manufacturer’s factory in Derby, England.
Signed by TfL’s transport commissioner Andy Lord, Alstom managing director Nick Crossfield and Unite general secretary Sharon Graham, the letter said that Harper could “save jobs and support growth” by confirming funding for the purchase.
It said that Alstom was ready to deliver the additional Class 345 trains needed to assist the line, while the Old Oak Common station was the terminus of the HS2 line from Birmingham but TfL needed the DfT to confirm its funding submission before the London body could move forward with an order.
The letter read: “Without this commitment, TfL is not able to place an order within Alstom’s remaining production window to manufacture the trains in Derby, which will result in the demobilisation of Alstom’s production facilities for the Aventra platform of trains.”
TfL’s plea to Harper comes soon after Alstom announced that more than 1,300 jobs were at risk at its Litchurch Lane factory in Derby due to a lack of upcoming orders, specifically mentioning the government’s delay on HS2 and the resulting pushback in orders for trains as one of the reasons behind its gap in work at the plant.
TfL’s letter also said that a delay in getting the new trains could be detrimental to the local area around Old Oak Common, as “relying on the existing services on the Western Route would undercut the benefits brought by introducing high-speed rail”.
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It said: “If we miss the opportunity with Alstom, it may be impossible to achieve elsewhere and HS2 will not achieve the programme aspirations for Old Oak Common. It is essential that government provides assurance that this will not be a potential outcome.”