Lifeline for Alstom?

Lifeline for Alstom? The production lines at Derby Litchurch Lane. Philip Sherratt

Transport Secretary Mark Harper says the Department for Transport has secured ‘approval in principle’ funding for ten Class 345 EMUs for the Elizabeth Line – which could help Alstom keep its Litchurch Lane factory in Derby running until production of High Speed 2 trains starts in 2026.

In a letter to Derby North MP Amanda Holloway (Conservative), Mr Harper said the DfT had secured funding for five of the nine-car trains in March, with ‘approval in principle’ for a further five granted in April. However, he wrote: ‘Subject to securing the necessary commercial agreements between Transport for London and Alstom and confirming a business case for the additional trains that represents value for money for the taxpayer, this would enable Alstom to maintain sufficient capacity at Litchurch Lane until the confirmed new HS2 work comes onstream and until it is able to compete for new orders in the market.’

But he warned: ‘I made it clear to them [Alstom Chairman and CEO Henri Poupart-Lafarge and UK & Ireland Director Nick Crossfield] that the onus is now on Alstom to provide competitive pricing for the work and full transparency on its costings to enable this to progress to satisfactory and swift closure.’

Mr Harper added that he had asked the company to confirm in writing its long-term commitment to invest in Derby and that it would design, develop and manufacture its Adessia platform there. He said that while ‘a considerable amount of work’ remains to conclude negotiations and confirm the business case ‘I am confident that Alstom understands what now needs to be done and that a solution is now in sight.’

  • For more analysis on UK rolling stock manufacture, Roger Ford examines the issues in the May issue of Modern Railways, out on 25 April.