The UK’s major train factories will start to run out of work within 12 months if no orders for new or upgraded rolling stock are placed, says the Railway Industry Association.
In a new report called The UK Rolling Stock Industry – making 2023 the year of opportunity not crisis, it says current orders are set to end by 2026. Only the HS2 train fleet being built by Alstom and Hitachi is currently on the stocks beyond that point.
It points out that the rolling stock industry employs more than 30,000 people and contributes at least £1.8 billion to the economy.
The association says that unless the Government makes decisions, consequences could include the loss of thousands of jobs, increased long-term costs, limited deployment of new environmentally friendly technologies and a worse passenger experience. It calls for orders to replace or upgrade the oldest rolling stock urgently.
Up-front public investment would not be required, says the report, pointing out that the private sector has delivered much new and upgraded rolling stock. Furthermore, costs are likely to be offset by preserving competition, protecting UK skills and domestic production capability and growing passenger revenues, the report claims.
RIA Technical Director David Clarke says: ‘With the last main line order being over three years ago and no visibility of new orders for upgrading or renewing rolling stock in the UK, we are once again facing the prospect of job losses and factory closures.
‘These closures would have a deeply damaging impact, with jobs, passenger satisfaction, value for money and the drive to decarbonise all undermined by the upcoming trough in the ‘boom-and-bust’ funding cycle.
‘This RIA report is clear that rolling stock orders are required now. These should be ‘no-regrets’ decisions for Government as they wouldn’t require upfront taxpayer investment but would result in a broad range of benefits, from retaining jobs to immediate carbon and air quality improvement and a better experience for passengers.’