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UK’s Largest Train Factory Faces Potential Layoffs of Over 1,300 Jobs Due to Rolling Stock Demand Shortage

The UK’s largest train factory, operated by French company Alstom, is facing the potential loss of over 1,300 jobs due to a shortage of demand for rolling stock. The plant in Derby, scheduled to build trains for HS2, may close down, affecting 550 permanent staff and 780 agency workers. Alstom cites a significant gap in orders from next year, with no confirmed work beyond the first quarter of 2024. This development raises concerns about the future of HS2, which recently experienced cost overruns and delays, leading to the cancellation of its northern leg.

The Derby plant, with a history dating back to the Victorian era, was set to commence work on HS2 rolling stock in late 2026. Alstom, grappling with a £3 billion debt following the acquisition of Bombardier in 2021, has been losing £50 million per month. The company, the world’s second-largest rail firm, is consulting on job cuts at the Derby site. Labour MP Margaret Beckett expressed disappointment, while Unite Union official Paresh Patel criticised the timing of the announcement close to Christmas.

Alstom emphasised ongoing efforts to collaborate with the government for the factory’s sustainable future but indicated the need for collective consultation on potential redundancies. The company remains “open-minded” about the Derby site’s future. Additionally, Alstom is seeking to raise £1 billion to bolster its balance sheet. Share prices fell by as much as a fifth, contributing to a nearly 50% decline since the beginning of the year. HS2 stated that the situation is a matter for the company, and delivery dates for the high-speed trains are currently under negotiation in the joint venture with Hitachi.

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