Hundreds of jobs are at risk at the UK’s biggest train building plant following the government’s decision to axe parts of the HS2 project.
The French train giant Alstom is preparing a statutory consultation to slash approximately 600 jobs at the Litchurch Lane Factory in Derby, The Sunday Times reported.
The engineering group has reportedly scheduled talks with unions to put in the final arrangements for a redundancy programme this week.
The company’s Litchurch Lane Works, which employs 2,000 people, was first taken over by Alstom in January 2021 as part of a £4.9bn deal with previous owner Bombardier.
The factory was set to play a key role in building 54 high speed trains for HS2, under a partnership between Alstom and Japan’s Hitachi.
But the project has been heavily scaled back after the government confirmed last month it will shelve the Manchester leg of HS2 amid spiralling costs. The line will now only run from London to Birmingham, with the connection to Euston reliant on private funding.
The projects’ budget has risen to at least £71bn from an initial budget of £32bn.
Alstom and Hitachi have asked for clarity from the government over the number of trains still required as part of their HS2 contracts.
Paresh Patel, Unite East Midlands regional secretary, said: “Unite has been actively in discussions with Alstom for months as a result of the challenges facing the business due to problems in the government’s rail procurement supply line and lack of industrial strategy for UK rail manufacturing.
“This is a highly skilled workforce which should not be in the current position through no fault of its own and they are facing a highly uncertain future due to the government’s dithering and failings.
“If redundancies are announced Unite will leave no stone unturned its fight for jobs at this historic factory.”
“Alstom is seeking a sustainable future for Britain’s largest train factory at Derby and discussions with government are continuing,” a spokesperson for the company said.
A HS2 spokesperson said: “This is a matter for the company. The Hitachi Alstom joint venture was awarded the contract to build Britain’s new generation of high-speed trains in December 2021.
“Dates for delivery are currently under negotiation, ensuring greater alignment with work on HS2’s infrastructure and systems.”
The Department for Transport (DfT) declined to comment.