Pressure grows on Prime Minister to end Alstom Derby crisis

Derby Litchurch Lane

The fast-growing campaign aimed at trying to save thousands of jobs in the region will take another step forward this week when a series of letters are handed in to Downing Street and to the UK boss of Alstom – whose site is at the centre of storm.

Councillor Baggy Shankar, the leader of Derby City Council, has written to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Transport Secretary Mark Harper and Alstom’s managing director Nick Crossfield urging them to come together to save the Litchurch Lane plant, which is under serious threat of closure after running out of work.

The campaign’s organisers say that an order of just five more trains will secure the future of the Alstom factory in Derby.

The letter to Sunak says the closure of the plant is “unconscionable”.

It adds: “When you visited the area on 22nd March you kindly committed to your government to doing ‘everything it can’ to ensure new orders. Since then, whilst there has been plenty of talk, there has been no progress and we are now looking at the imminent closure of a factory in operation since 1839.

“The procurement of ten trains saves the plant, saves thousands of jobs in the
national supply chain, and will lead to Alstom making Derby a global HQ for their new
commuter train, the Adessia. Derby is already the global HQ for monorail, having recently designed and built the system now in operation in Cairo.

Derby is a proud railway city, home to Europe’s largest business rail cluster and soon to be HQ to Great British Railways, created by your government to bring a guiding mind to track and train – hopefully preventing pipeline cliff-edges like this.

“Prime Minister, so much to gain, so much to lose – all dependent on quick action on ten
new trains.

“As a broad, cross-sector, cross-party, cross-community we urge you to intervene.”

Alstom’s Litchurch Lane site is the UK’s largest train factory – in operation for 185 years – and is the only site in the country where trains are designed, developed, built and tested.

At risk are 1,300 direct jobs in Derby and a further 15,000 jobs in supply chains across the country.

Marketing Derby managing director John Forkin said: “Over the past few days we have built a public-private-community campaign. Hundreds of businesses have given their backing and yesterday 30,000 people saw the campaign at Pride Park Stadium. This week we will hand in a letter to the Prime Minister asking for his intervention and requesting meetings with the Secretary of State foir Transport and the CEO of Alstom.

“Standing between this disaster for UK plc and survival is the procurement of a mere five additional trains for the Elizabeth Line.”

In an extensive interview with railway industry podcast Green Signals last week, Crossfield said: “We are not unequivocally beyond the point of no return. But we are in a very difficult position.

“We’re a global business – from a group perspective, if there’s no commitment from the UK, we’ll put the investment somewhere else.”