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9 July 2010
Unite, Britain's biggest union, is calling on employers, MPs and business lobby groups from across the North East to campaign to secure a crucial £7.5 billion rail contract which could be at risk.
The union has warned that the Intercity Express Programme (IEP) is now in the balance as the ConDem Government has deferred its decision on whether the programme will go ahead to October at the earliest.
The IEP was awarded to Agility Trains owned by Hitachi, to replace the HST fleet and would operate on the East Coast & Great Western lines. The first 70 units are to be built in Japan, the remaining will be assembled in the UK with an initial workforce of 200 rising to 500 in peak production. Hitachi has made it clear that should it establish a UK train building facility they would seek to use it as a base to export trains into Europe. Hitachi has considered many sites for the new UK train building facility but Tyne Yard location is understood to be Hitachi's favoured site.
Should IEP be cancelled by the government, Hitachi will not build the UK train building factory. The north east region would lose out on significant construction and fabrication work including 20 years of maintenance work that is connected to the contract.
From 2002 to 2009 the UK's sole domestic volume train builder, Bombardier, has only manufactured half of the rolling stock ordered for the UK network. Unite believes a second train builder in the UK would mean the UK could capture much more of the UK rolling stock market than previously.
Davey Hall, Unite regional secretary said:
"Unite is calling upon employers, business groups and MPs to jointly campaign to ensure the government endorses the contract without delay to support regional investment, jobs and the UKs manufacturing base.
"If the government gives the green light to the contract the investment would put the UK back on the map as a significant train manufacturer for the European market.
"This provides a prime opportunity to advance a combined and concerted effort from all concerned to ensure the contract comes to fruition and is placed in the north east."