Rally in Derby on Saturday 23 July
The Green Party has condemned the Tory/Lib Dem coalition government for giving a £3 billion order of new rolling stock for Thameslink trains to Siemens.
The rival bidder, Derby-based Bombardier, has laid off over a thousand workers, as the last remaining train builder in the country. The Bombardier factory in Derby is now under threat, and so are thousands more jobs in the Derby area in other rail businesses that supply the factory.
Green Party transport spokesperson Alan Francis said:
“We need more train carriages and more manufacturing jobs in the UK. Train manufacturing in this country should be expanded, not forced to close down. It is a dereliction of duty by the government to stand by and see the loss of skills and jobs.”
Derbyshire Green Party Chairman David Foster said:
“The coalition government is playing political football with the livelihoods of thousands of people in Derby and Derbyshire. One of the most worrying aspects of this deplorable decision is that it continues the trend of dismantling the whole engineering industry and technical know-how in this country. We have already witnessed the demise of the British automotive industry and rely heavily on foreign manufacturers. If we don’t wake up to what is happening, we risk losing our national engineering heritage. I urge the people of Derby and Derbyshire to show their opposition to this decision and come to the rally in Derby on Saturday 23 July.”
At a pre-general-election rail debate in Westminster in 2010 (1), Alan Francis was the only politician to argue not only for more train carriages for the rail network, but to also to state that they should be built in the UK to preserve British jobs.
Francis was on a panel with Chris Mole, then a Labour government transport minister, Stephen Hammond, then a Conservative shadow transport minister, and Norman Baker, then a Lib Dem shadow transport minister. The debate, before an audience of senior rail industry people, was chaired by the BBC’s Nick Owen.
When questioned about orders for new carriages, all of the panelists claimed that they wanted to see more carriages on the network. But Francis was the only one to talk about building those new carriages in this country. Alan Francis said today:
“This shows that all three of the main parties are so wedded to the free market, they are willing to sacrifice British manufacturing and British jobs. After the debate, I was congratulated by a member of the audience from a Derby rail company. He thanked me for being the only panellist to raise the issue of train building in this country.”