Backers voice their anger at decision to deprive firm of £7½bn rail order
Bob Laxton, Labour MP for Derby North
"WHEN I first heard this was happening, I was absolutely appalled. I couldn't believe it – particularly during this economic crisis.
I'm very concerned about the figures that have come from the Hitachi-based consortium.
Let us be clear about that because it has been called "British-led" – as far as I'm concerned the group that has been named preferred bidder is headed by Hitachi.
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I very much doubt the veracity of the 12,500 jobs figure and there is going to be a good percentage of this work that gets carried out in Japan and it's looking like it's going to be the bolting together that gets done here.
Looking into the future for Bombardier, there are gaps in its order book and this would have provided a huge amount of work and would have brought job certainty for people across the East Midlands.
Certainly, everyone in Derby should be questioning now what the long-term impact of this is going to be over the next 20 years.
This is a huge contract that may be lost – remember that Bombardier doesn't have to stay in the UK.
It could even reconsider its base here if it thinks it is going to keep getting pushed aside.
Why not stay in Germany or France where home-based companies seem to win the contracts?
The Government must remember that this contract has not been signed yet. It needs to think again and it needs to think hard about this.
It needs to go back and check out meticulously the solidity of the claims made on jobs and where this work will take place.
Geoff Hoon's department has made the wrong decision on this – I don't want to fall out with him but I think we may well do on this. I've spoken to him and he knows how angry I am."
Bob Crow, general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union.
"THE Department for Transport has not answered the basic question of whether these trains will be manufactured in Britain or simply assembled here.
We have been campaigning long and hard to protect what is left of Britain's train-making capacity and skills base and, if the basic manufacture of these sets is to be undertaken elsewhere, the DfT announcement will have been a triumph of spin over substance.
We need to know why the order was not placed with Bombardier, which has established train-building capacity and a skilled workforce in Derby.
If Japan can manage to ensure that the high-speed fleet that operates on its own railways is manufactured entirely at home, there is no earthly reason why Britain cannot either.
There are a number of other unanswered questions, including who will own the trains and, from a safety point of view, ensuring that they will be configured in a way that incorporates the full operational safety role of guards.
New rolling stock is always welcome but it underlines the need for the Government to act to prevent huge, completely unnecessary and damaging job losses planned elsewhere in the railway industry.
More than 3,000 rail jobs are immediately under threat by train-operating companies acting in the selfish short-term interests of their shareholders and a dangerous spending squeeze being implemented by Network Rail.
Joined-up government demands that ministers act to stop damage to the industry happening now so that it will be in a fit state to make best use of the new trains when they arrive."
Neil Ferguson-Lee, director of Wyvern Rail plc, which owns MyTestTrack.com, based at Ecclesbourne Valley Railway at Wirksworth.
"I was appalled by the amount of spin that was attached to the announcement of the Intercity Express deal.
At the end of the day, the Department for Transport is letting a foreign train builder take a large step into the UK market.
The big question that remains unanswered is where these 12,500 jobs will come from. The real value in this contract is in the design and technical support side. I believe that Hitachi will carry out this work in Japan and not Britain.
It will be very interesting to understand the reasoning for this decision. I believe a Parliamentary inquiry should be held to investigate this.
The Government may see some kind of advantage in trying to get a second train-builder to come to the UK after Alstom went a couple of years ago.
But the fact is, this is a massive contract. What is particularly damaging is that it will see the export of intellectual property that has been created here in the UK go to Japan. This, I believe, will have profound effects.
Not to denigrate those who work in this particular area but, out of all of this, the UK will be getting the lower-end jobs in the manufacturing process of these trains.
I don't agree with protectionism – we need to have a strong export economy.
But the fact is Bombardier could start on this project right away. The UK economy needs this work now.
Instead, we will have to wait a couple of years for Hitachi to do the design and development work in Japan.
It feels like we have simply stuffed a suitcase full of money and put it on a Jumbo jet heading east. There is also the impact on the suppliers. Components for Bombardier's trains are sourced from all over the world – but many are made in this region.
The key point is that the decision on what suppliers Bombardier in Derby uses is made by UK people. With Hitachi, those decisions are out of Britain's hands.
As a business, we will miss out. Our business, MyTestTrack.com, provides testing facilities for a variety of trains.
We were hoping that the Intercity Express programme would bring some of the development work here. But that work will be done in Japan, so we don't even get a sniff."
John Forkin, director of Marketing Derby, a public/private sector organisation set up to promote Derby as a place to live work and invest.
SOME decisions are black and white – that is the slogan used by Derby County in encouraging more support for the club.
The same criteria could be applied to decisions being made during the recession.
For example, should the award of a massive £7.5bn contract for the manufacture of a new Intercity train fleet be given to Japan or the UK?
Only a couple of weeks ago, Derby's rail cluster was rightly praised by the Secretary of State for Transport, Geoff Hoon, as having a "reputation as a world-class centre for rail design, engineering, manufacturing and consultancy".
I find it astonishing that this massive taxpayer investment is being made in Japan when our local, UK-based – and world-class – bidder, Bombardier, would not even be allowed to submit a tender in that country.
Can you imagine France, Germany or the United States taking a similar decision? Me neither.
I am all in favour of a globalised market as Derby's economy has been the beneficiary of this and a move towards fundamentalist protectionism would be negative for us all.
However, it was the Prime Minister who said 'British jobs for British workers'. What exactly he did mean?
We have the skills in this city to deliver that Intercity fleet and I believe this decision is both wrong and should be challenged with a view to convincing the Government that, in this case, it has got it wrong.
Geoff Hoon is a local boy and is a Rams season ticket holder.
Come on Geoff, next time you are at Pride Park Stadium, read the name on the front of our shirts … Bombardier. Some decisions are black and white."
Peter Roberts, vice-chairman of Derby and Derbyshire Rail Forum, which represents rail companies throughout county, and managing director of Alfreton-based rail firm Collis Engineering, which works with Bombardier.
"THE most unfair aspect of all of this is that, although a Japanese company like Hitachi can bid for a UK contract, a firm in Derby like Bombardier cannot bid for a Japanese contract.
Some argue that Bombardier is a Canadian-owned company – it is. But the fact remains, it has a factory in Derby employing 2,200 local people.
When the Department for Transport put out its statement saying that its preferred bid was from a British consortium, I felt this was incredibly misleading.
The British consortium in this was the Express Rail Alliance – Bombardier's consortium.
To say that Hitachi's consortium was British, simply because it included John Laing and Barclays, was wrong. Hitachi initially started the bid on its own and the two others came on board later.
In terms of the jobs issue, I believe Mr Hoon has put his foot in it. He says 12,500 jobs will be created or safeguarded. How?
It has been said that the first 70 trains in the contract will be made in Japan and the rest in the UK.
But we understand that Hitachi will make the rest of the trains in Japan and they will be assembled in the UK, creating up to 2,500 jobs.
I find it absolutely astounding that our Government can pump billions into banks but not support our other industries such as rail. Maybe Bombardier should consider becoming a bank.
I'm pretty sure that the Government was aware of the state of Bombardier's order book and how important this order was to the firm.
At a time when it is preaching British jobs for British workers, the economy is in trouble and people are being made redundant, I think it is tremendously sad that the Government has not chosen Bombardier as the preferred bidder.
A number of our Rail Forum members rely very heavily on Bombardier for sub-contract work.
The Intercity Express programme would have brought a lot of work their way – not because they are local but because they deliver the best.
Speaking of which, it is my understanding that Bombardier's trains in this bid were lighter, faster and more eco-friendly than Hitachi's.
I don't know on what basis the DfT came to its decision but, whatever it was, the outcome is hugely disappointing.
A couple of years ago, when Bombardier reviewed its operations, the management in Derby fought hard to keep the site, while other Bombardier sites in Europe were calling for it to close.
They succeeded in keeping Derby open. But, when the Government does something like this, staff at Bombardier may well think, well why on earth did we bother?"
George Cowcher, chief executive of Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Chamber of Commerce.
"BOMBARDIER is a very strong and loyal member of the chamber and we have its best interests at the core of what we do.
However, this announcement by the Department for Transport, naming the Hitachi consortium as the preferred bidder for the Intercity programme, is not.
Bombardier is a key employer in Derby, supporting a large supply chain in the region.
This region benefits greatly from the manufacturing sector and we must ensure that this is not lost.
That is why we must support Bombardier and make the Government aware of how important such a contract would be in terms of supporting jobs in this region.
It must be remembered that, if the company does miss out, there are some other contracts it can bid for.
However, the Intercity work is a very big contract and would help ensure that Bombardier and its suppliers are around for many years to come."