Alstom warns of Derby job losses

A West Midlands Trains Class 730 EMU under construction at Alstom's Derby factory. Philip Sherratt

Alstom is warning that jobs at its Litchurch Lane factory in Derby are at risk when its current orders run out in the first quarter of 2024. It is currently building Class 701 Aventras for South Western Railway but has nothing on the stocks until the High Speed 2 fleet enters production later in the decade.

Modern Railways understands that around 550 redundancies of Alstom staff are being consulted on, with the positions of 780 contractors also at risk.

In a statement, the company said: ‘Alstom UK has been working with Government for the last six months with the joint objective of securing a sustainable future for our rolling stock factory at Derby Litchurch Lane, which has no confirmed workload beyond the first quarter of 2024. No committed way forward has yet been found and therefore it is with deep regret that we must now begin to plan for a significant reduction in activity at Derby by entering a period of collective consultation on potential redundancies at Litchurch Lane. We will fully support our dedicated colleagues during this exceptionally difficult time.

‘The UK remains one of Alstom’s most important global markets and we will continue to operate 36 sites throughout the country across our Rolling Stock, Services, and Digital and Integrated Systems businesses. We look forward to fulfilling our commitments on HS2 and successfully competing for rolling stock opportunities across the UK in the future.

‘We remain open-minded as to the future of non-production functions located at Litchurch Lane and to potential future alternative uses for the Derby site. We will begin an extensive review of options and will fully involve our stakeholders in this process.’

Rail Forum Chief Executive Elaine Clark said of the concerns: ‘This announcement is deeply worrying not just for those people employed directly by Alstom but for the thousands more employed in the wider supply chain across the UK.

‘Alstom’s factory in Derby has some key capabilities which in turn underpin opportunities for UK companies; if those activities cease this could have a devastating long-term impact on suppliers.

‘The approach to rolling stock procurement has led to the current scenario of “feast and famine” and we are already seeing redundancies in suppliers as their work dries up.

‘The industry desperately needs a long-term rolling stock strategy that avoids large peaks and troughs. We encourage all parties to work together to minimise the impact of the current situation and to develop a strong and sustainable rolling stock industry. We are working with our members to look at how we can support redeployment of people within the sector to ensure we can retain these key skills for the future.’