New Bombardier rail contract for Scotland?
Reports say Bombardier may get $190M contract to upgrade trains to hybrid electric.
Montreal — The British media say the government is preparing to award Bombardier a rail contract, but the manufacturer wouldn’t say if it will provide a lifeline for 1,400 jobs on the chopping block in Derby, England.
The 120-million-pound ($190-million) contract would be to upgrade 57 trains from diesel to hybrid electric on a line in Scotland.
Bombardier spokesman Marc Laforge said that while it’s always good news to receive contracts, the rail manufacturing giant doesn’t know how it would affect the planned layoffs.
“We don’t know what are the real intentions and we will have to see what will happen if that’s the case,” he said in an interview.
“It looks like there’s a lot of speculation in the air.”
The possible contract is a fraction the size of the 1.4-billion-pound ($2.2-billion) Thameslink deal it lost to Siemens that precipitated its layoff decision in July.
The British government has been under pressure to reverse its decision and award the contract to the country’s only producer of rolling stock before terms are finalized.
The small contract is seen as a stop-gap while bidding has been delayed for a large contract to provide trains for a commuter route in London.
Reports said the government is trying to retain the train design team and supply chain expertise in Derby until large orders return.
The government is reviewing bidding rules that could make it easier for Bombardier to win the tender for 600 new carriages for the Cross-London Rail Links contract.
Tenders will be issued in 2012 and the contracts awarded late in 2013.
Bombardier Transportation president Andre Navarri said during a conference call last month that the delay in the bidding process is potentially good news for the company.
Four out of five existing contracts in Derby end in September. The remaining contract is to supply 1,300 metro cars for the London Underground’s sub-surface lines by 2014.
Trains have been built in Derby since the 1840s and the city was once among the world’s largest rail manufacturing sites. Bombardier purchased the facility from Daimler Chrysler in 2001. After the layoffs, it will employ some 1,600 workers in Derby.
Bombardier has a total of about 6,000 rail division employees in Britain — including those who work on signalling and 15 maintenance, refurbishment and overhaul centres.
That makes it the second-largest in Europe. Only Germany is larger with more than 7,700 employees at eight production facilities.
© 2011 The Canadian Press