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Alstom Derby only has a few weeks left

The managing director of Alstom in Britain and Ireland has warned that the company’s Derby factory in Litchurch Lane will have run out of work by the end of January when the building of Aventra units is completed, and if it closes thousands of jobs will be lost. Nick Crossfield was giving evidence in Westminster to the Transport Select Committee, which is preparing a report on the future of Britain’s trains. While the Committee was in session, protestors from Derby and the union Unite were demonstrating outside. Mr Crossfield said: ‘We finish the manufacturing programmes at the end of January – so in six weeks we go from an annual output of 650 cars employing 3,000 people to zero. The meter is running.’ There are also fears for the security of jobs in Alstom’s supply chain, much of which is in the East Midlands, and those fears are already proving justified. He continued: ‘Today, I have the supply chain showing liquidation. My paint supplier has gone into insolvency, a major on-site supplier providing the wiring loom employing several hundred people [has] announced at the end of January it is done. ‘The timing of these decisions is critical because if I don't get clarity in the next six weeks – it all goes.’ He also told MPs on the Committee that ‘there is a conversation to come’ about how the Prime Minister’s decision to abandon HS2 to Crewe and Manchester will affect the order for rolling stock on the high speed line, which was won jointly by Alstom and Hitachi. He concluded that train building in Derby was at ‘serious risk’, and that ‘clarity about future orders, including on HS2’ was needed urgently, warning that if Litchurch Lane closes Britain could need to import trains in future from as far away as China. The leader of Derby City Council Baggy Shanker was among the protestors in Westminster. He has already criticised the lack of government involvement, saying: ‘The hundreds of jobs that will disappear at Alstom will be mirrored by thousands more in the supply chain and when the nation does want to order new trains in the future, it will struggle to find anyone in the UK to build them. ‘This is simply unthinkable for a country which gave railways to the world, and the Government has to find the political will to resolve this crisis.’

Demonstrators stage Alstom protest in Westminster

Demonstrators calling for the Alstom works in Derby to be saved have been lobbying Parliament. One group was from the Unite union, while Derby councillors and business leaders were also in Westminster. The lobby of Parliament was timed to coincide with a meeting of the Transport Select Committee which was hearing evidence about the future of Britain’s trains. The witnesses questioned by the Committee included Nick Crossfield, managing director of Alstom UK & Ireland, and the Railway Industry Association’s technical director David Clarke. MPs were also due to question Malcom Brown, who is the chief executive of the rolling stock leasing company Angel Trains. Companies like Angel provide nearly all the capital to purchase new trains. The threatened closure of the Alstom works at Litchurch Lane in Derby is said to have put at least 1300 jobs directly at risk, plus 900 or more in the East Midlands supply chain. Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: ‘Unite will do everything that is required to secure the future of the Alstom workforce. The government’s failure to properly plan its procurement process cannot and will not be allowed to threaten the livelihoods of our members. If the government allows this to happen it will be a gross betrayal of the workforce and the people of Derby. ‘Rail workers in Derby deserve better than this, their futures have been thrown into jeopardy by issues beyond their control. Ministers can’t be allowed to wash their hands of this crisis and they must come forward with a just solution. Equally, Alstom needs to play its part and invest in the site to reinforce its position as a world leader in train manufacturing.’ Derby City Council leader Baggy Shanker said the Alstom plant is a ‘strategically crucial part of the UK’s rail capabilities and the Government needs to recognise this’. He continued: ‘There will be dreadful consequences for the city, the East Midlands and the country as a whole, if train production in Derby is lost. The hundreds of jobs that will disappear at Alstom will be mirrored by thousands more in the supply chain and when the nation does want to order new trains in the future, it will struggle to find anyone in the UK to build them. ‘This is simply unthinkable for a country which gave railways to the world and the Government has to find the political will to resolve this crisis.’

South Western main line blocked by landslip

Engineers have been abseiling down the side of a railway cutting in Somerset, after a landslip blocked the line between Salisbury and Exeter. Network Rail and South Western Railway are warning passengers to avoid the route until Monday morning as a result of the slippage, which is at Crewkerne Tunnel. Network Rail completed inspections late on Monday night, and yesterday engineers assessing the damage used ropes to abseil down the cutting and start removing vegetation before beginning to excavate the debris. Network Rail engineers will work around the clock over the next few days to excavate around 100 tonnes of clay, soil and vegetation from around the tunnel entrance. to help stabilise the cutting. Engineers are initially excavating by hand, lowering the debris to the track using chutes, before it’s taken away on an engineering train. A long reach excavator will also be brought in and placed on top of the tunnel using an extra-long arm and bucket to help with the removal of the debris. To make matters worse, floods west of Salisbury have also made providing rail replacement buses difficult. Network Rail Wessex route director Matt Pocock said: ‘I would like to say how sorry we are for the disruption passengers are experiencing following a landslip at Crewkerne tunnel. ‘We’ve experienced over 90mm of sustained heavy rain over the past 48 hours and this has resulted in movement in the earth on the cutting above the tunnel entrance which, if action isn’t taken, could spill over on to the tracks. ‘Our team of engineers are already working extremely hard day and night and in all conditions to remove over 100 tonnes of debris and will be doing all they can so we can reopen the line and passengers can resume travelling on Monday morning.’ South Western Railway’s performance and planning director Steve Tyler added: ‘We know how disruptive this is for customers in the run up to Christmas, so our teams are examining potential ways to run an extremely limited service between Salisbury and Yeovil Junction via Westbury in the coming days. Please check our website for the latest updates.’

Tuesday briefing: Cautious welcome for �3.9bn Transpennine upgrade

Transpennine funding The Railway Industry Association has given a cautious welcome to the government’s confirmation of £3.9 billion to pay for the next stage of the Transpennine Route Upgrade. RIA chief executive Darren Caplan said: ‘As far as we understand this is not new money for rail and is not a new pipeline opportunity for rail suppliers. As the Government itself would say, TRU has been under development for more than a decade and is a key component of the 2021 Integrated Rail Plan for the North & Midlands and the Network North plan announced in October. The Railway Industry Association and our members now await the next business case update for TRU.’ Mayors’ rail initiative Metro Mayors Andy Street and Andy Burnham are joining forces to improve rail connections between the West Midlands and Greater Manchester, with the aid of former Network Rail chief executive Sir David Higgins. They have formed a private sector group led by Arup, which will concentrate on lines between Handsacre, where HS2 will now end, and Manchester. The work will examine costs, capacity and economic benefits. Cardiff plan Network Rail has prepared a masterplan covering more than four hectares of former railway land, which is to be used as a ‘brownfield’ site for new houses near Cardiff Central station. Network Rail said it was one of the last parcels of land to be regenerated in the city centre, and that it had been a barrier to investment for other parts of the city for many years. TikTok fine A fare evader who boasted on TikTok of making fraudulent journeys on East Midlands Railway and published ‘tips’ so that others could do the same, has been convicted under section 5 of the Regulation of Railways Act 1889 following a collaborative investigation between EMR and British Transport Police. She was fined £773.

London demonstration planned in bid to save Alstom at Derby

Efforts to save the train-building works at Litchurch Lane in Derby are being stepped up, following Alstom’s warning that work will soon run out. If the works close 2000 jobs will be lost, while many more will be at risk in the East Midlands supply chain. Councillors and business leaders in the region are planning to lobby Parliament in two days from now. The demonstration on 6 December will coincide with a select committee meeting discussing rolling stock. There are very few fleets being built or set to be ordered for the National Rail network at the moment, while the order of trains for HS2 will now be smaller because the Prime Minister has scrapped the high speed line north of Birmingham to Crewe and Manchester. Derby city council leader Baggy Shanker said: ‘There will be dreadful consequences for the city, the East Midlands and the country as a whole, if train production in Derby is lost. The hundreds of jobs that will disappear at Alstom will be mirrored by thousands more in the supply chain and when the nation does want to order new trains in the future, it will struggle to find anyone in the UK to build them. ‘This is simply unthinkable for a country which gave railways to the world and the Government has to find the political will to resolve this crisis. It is deeply ironic that only months after Westminster recognised the importance of the rail sector in Derby by making it the headquarters of newly formed Great British Railways, that we should now have to fight to save a vital part of the industry.’ The campaign to avoid the closure is being supported by the managing director of Marketing Derby, John Forkin. He added: ‘The threat to the future of train building is a clear and present danger and the civic, business and wider community will not stand by and watch it happen. A solution is in the hands of Government and we expect that our collective voice will be heard in Parliament. ‘We are a world leader in rolling stock manufacturing and, as a city and country, we should be investing in that skills and talent pool to help grow the economy.’ The works at Litchurch Lane belonged to Bombardier until 2021, which chose Derby as its global centre for the manufacture of aluminium bodies for rolling stock. Clients included leasing companies on behalf of Southern, Transport for London, LTS (now c2c) and Southeastern.

Industry braces for week of strikes � and drivers vote for more

Strikes The Commons Transport Committee has urged the Government not to overlook risks as it prepares to introduce Minimum Service Levels ‘rail strikes’ regulations, and ‘be ready to learn lessons where necessary’. The warning has come as ASLEF starts nine days of an overtime ban, and also prepares to stage rolling strikes at operators in England from tomorrow until 8 December. Meanwhile drivers who are members of ASLEF have voted to continue strikes for the next six months. ASLEF general secretary Mick Whelan said: ‘Our members, who have not had a pay rise for nearly five years now, are determined that the train companies and the Tory government that stands behind them do the right thing.’ Landslip Network Rail and South Western Railway are urging passengers between Woking and Basingstoke to only travel if absolutely necessary following a landslip. Cracks up to 45 metres long, 50cm wide and a metre deep have been detected in a 100 metre slope next to the St John’s Hill Road overbridge between Brookwood and Woking. Network Rail has introduced a 20mph speed restriction and part of the railway will be closed next week so that the cutting can be repaired. Ayr ScotRail has confirmed that limited services from Ayr will be reintroduced next week after the line was closed following a recent fire at the former Station Hotel. A half-hourly rail shuttle will start running on 4 December to Prestwick Town, to link with connecting services to Glasgow Central.The safety exclusion zone around the former hotel at Ayr means that full services cannot be restored for now. Rail replacements The Office of Rail and Road has asked operators and Network Rail to address concerns over the consistency and usefulness of information about rail replacement buses during engineering works. The regulator said better information is needed, adding that there were too many places where passengers could be confused by where to go and what to do. Performance The ORR has launched an investigation into punctuality and reliability in Network Rail’s Wales & Western region. Performance has continued to deteriorate while performance elsewhere has been stabilising. While ORR’s investigation will focus on Network Rail, the regulator said it recognises that reliable, punctual trains require cross-industry collaboration, and will arrange a meeting of all parties, including passenger and freight operators. The ORR will assess whether Network Rail is complying with its licence obligations.

Industry braces for week of strikes

Strikes The Commons Transport Committee has urged the Government not to overlook risks as it prepares to introduce Minimum Service Levels ‘rail strikes’ regulations, and ‘be ready to learn lessons where necessary’. The warning has come as ASLEF starts nine days of an overtime ban, and also prepares to stage rolling strikes at operators in England from tomorrow until 8 December. Landslip Network Rail and South Western Railway are urging passengers between Woking and Basingstoke to only travel if absolutely necessary following a landslip. Cracks up to 45 metres long, 50cm wide and a metre deep have been detected in a 100 metre slope next to the St John’s Hill Road overbridge between Brookwood and Woking. Network Rail has introduced a 20mph speed restriction and part of the railway will be closed next week so that the cutting can be repaired. Ayr ScotRail has confirmed that limited services from Ayr will be reintroduced next week after the line was closed following a recent fire at the former Station Hotel. A half-hourly rail shuttle will start running on 4 December to Prestwick Town, to link with connecting services to Glasgow Central.The safety exclusion zone around the former hotel at Ayr means that full services cannot be restored for now. Rail replacements The Office of Rail and Road has asked operators and Network Rail to address concerns over the consistency and usefulness of information about rail replacement buses during engineering works. The regulator said better information is needed, adding that there were too many places where passengers could be confused by where to go and what to do. Performance The ORR has launched an investigation into punctuality and reliability in Network Rail’s Wales & Western region. Performance has continued to deteriorate while performance elsewhere has been stabilising. While ORR’s investigation will focus on Network Rail, the regulator said it recognises that reliable, punctual trains require cross-industry collaboration, and will arrange a meeting of all parties, including passenger and freight operators. The ORR will assess whether Network Rail is complying with its licence obligations.

RMT members accept operators’ pay offer

The long series of strikes involving the RMT is over, after 18 months of walkouts. A new ballot of members has shown that a majority are in favour of accepting the latest pay offer from the operators. The union’s general secretary Mick Lynch said: ‘Our members have spoken in huge numbers to accept this unconditional pay offer and no compulsory redundancies until the end of 2024. ‘I want to congratulate them on their steadfastness in this long industrial campaign. ‘We will be negotiating further with the train operators over reforms they want to see. And we will never shy away from vigorously defending our members’ terms and conditions, now or in the future. ‘This campaign shows that sustained strike action and unity gets results and our members should be proud of the role they have played in securing this deal.’ The first response came from transport secretary Mark Harper, who said: ‘This is welcome news for passengers and a significant step towards resolving industrial disputes on the railway, giving workers a pay rise before Christmas and a pathway to delivering long overdue reforms.’ The Rail Delivery Group said: ‘This welcome vote from RMT members will unlock a pay rise for our people, and means that fair agreements have now been reached with three out of the four unions involved in the recent industrial dispute. ‘Unfortunately, the ASLEF leadership’s decision to call further industrial action means passengers still face disruption between 1-9 December, despite an offer remaining on the table which would see basic driver salaries increase from £60k to £65k for a four-day week. ‘We want to reach a fair agreement which will get more trains running on time and put the railway on a sustainable footing, at a time when taxpayers are contributing an extra £54 million a week to keep services running post-Covid. Instead of staging more damaging industrial action, we call on ASLEF to work with us to resolve this dispute for the long-term good of everyone who works in rail and the millions of businesses and passengers who rely on it every day.’ The results of the ballot, as published by the RMT, show that there was a majority in favour of a settlement of almost 90 per cent, with 13,454 at 14 train operators in England voting ‘yes’ and 1570 ’no’.  This story is breaking: more follows

Underground passenger figures continue to recover

Transport for London says the number of passengers travelling on the Underground was 4.05 million on 23 November, which is the largest daily total recorded since the start of Covid restrictions in March 2020. The Elizabeth Line, which is counted separately, carried more than 766,000 passengers on 9 November, setting a new record for the route. More than 720,000 daily journeys are made on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays each week, following the trend since Covid for commuting to be more concentrated over three days. TfL added that midweek ridership on the Underground is now regularly above 3.7 million daily, and up by around 6.5 per cent compared to last year. In spite of the change in commuting habits, ridership on Mondays and Fridays is also regularly above 3 million journeys a day, topping 3.6 million on recent Fridays because of additional leisure travellers. Several Underground stations in central London are already close to or exceeding the passenger volumes levels seen before the pandemic. Ridership on the Night Tube and Night Overground services is also up, with around 60,000 journeys on a Friday night between 00.30 and 04.30, and close to 70,000 journeys on a Saturday night between 00.30 and 04.30. London Overground and the Docklands Light Railway are also increasingly popular. The increases have strengthened TfL’s case for a long term budget settlement with the Government. One proposed economy was the scrapping of Day Travelcards, but this was abandoned when TfL reached a new agreement with the Rail Delivery Group’s London area National Rail operators and also the Department for Transport. However, TfL said there was no commitment in the Autumn Statement to provide longer-term support, and that the situation is ‘now urgent’ if TfL is going to be able to continue to provide reliable services that can support the most recent growth. The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: ‘It’s fantastic to see London truly roaring back post-pandemic - this impressive boost in ridership will support London’s and indeed the whole UK’s wider economy recovery. There’s no doubt that as Christmas approaches the appeal of London’s world-leading shops, restaurants and other venues is as strong as ever. ‘This data shows that people are returning to their pre-pandemic travel patterns. We can’t rest on our laurels. In order to further support this boom and deliver the world class transport system London deserves we need sustained capital investment over multiple years with support from central Government. This will help us support jobs and economic growth in London and across the country, and build a better, more prosperous London for all.’

Union urges end to Underground ‘austerity’ as crimes rise

The number of crimes committed on London Underground rose by more than a third in the six months from April to September this year, pushing the crime rate for each million passengers up from 13.7 to 18.6. The RMT has called for an end to ‘austerity’ measures which can potentially reduce the deployment of staff on duty. Transport for London has reported that although crime has risen, passenger numbers are down by 11 per cent. There is particular concern about thefts and robberies, because thefts were up by 83 per cent and robberies by 107 per cent. Almost two thirds of thefts took place on trains, at 61 per cent, while the rest were on stations. The worst stations for thefts were all busy interchanges in central London – King’s Cross St Pancras, Leicester Square and Oxford  Circus. RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: ‘These soaring crime rates come as no surprise to tube workers that are on the front line every day in this increasingly hostile environment. ‘RMT has been warning for many years that instead of an agenda of austerity and constant cutbacks we need decent staffing levels and investment to ensure a safe and secure transport network for London.’ Meanwhile, the RMT has discovered that one in three of its female members working for ScotRail have been sexually harassed in the course of their job, following a new survey. The union said more than 80 per cent of the respondents revealed they had not reported the incident, with most saying they felt they would not be taken seriously. More than half also said they had witnessed female passengers becoming the victims of sexual harassment over the past year.

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