Derby train-maker Bombardier welcomes report which predicts huge demand for rolling stock
DERBY train-maker Bombardier has welcomed a report which predicts the UK rail network may need up to 19,000 new carriages over the next 30 years.
The rolling stock strategy, which has been produced by Network Rail, train operators and train leasing companies, says the UK's train fleet could effectively double in that period because of rising passenger demand.
Bombardier intends to keep open its Litchurch Lane factory until at least 2014, while it bids for the £1 billion Crossrail rolling stock contract.
But it is hoped that such massive demand for new trains in the future could persuade bosses at the firm to maintain a UK manufacturing presence beyond next year.
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A spokesman for Bombardier said: "We welcome the rail industry's efforts to provide a level of certainty for train builders and their supply chains.
"We have the right products and experience to help our customers deliver sustainable capacity growth now and in the future."
Rail expert Sim Harris, managing editor of Rail News, said: "This could potentially be very good news for Bombardier.
"A 30-year order book, which would result in around eight to 12 trains being built a week, should interest any train manufacturer.
"What is important about this report is that for the first time we seem to have a consensus among Network Rail, the train-operating companies, the train-leasing companies and the banks that will help finance these trains."
Such demand should also boost Derbyshire's wider network of rail firms.
Rupert Brennan-Brown, spokesman for the Derby and Derbyshire Rail Forum, which represents around 100 rail companies in the region, said: "This is good news. Overcrowding is a growing problem on our increasingly popular railway.
"Derbyshire rail firms are well placed to meet the ambitious targets outlined in this strategy."
The report suggests relatively few of the new trains would be traditional diesel-powered trains because electrification is expected cover most of the network.
The Government is investing heavily in electrifying large swathes of the existing rail network, including £500 million to fully electrify the Midland Mainline – the route between Sheffield and London, which serves Derby.
The proportion of the fleet powered by electricity is expected to rise from 68% now to 80% in 2019.
The report predicts this proportion could rise to more than 90% by the early 2040s.
At worst, the report forecasts that 13,000 new trains would be needed, with the 19,000 being its top-end estimate.
But the report said the total could be higher, depending on individual decisions by franchise bidders and funders about whether to order new trains or refurbish existing fleets.
Just over a year ago, Bombardier announced it was keeping open its Litchurch Lane factory.
The firm had been carrying out a review of its operations after missing out on the £1.4 billion Thameslink contract to German firm Siemens.
Since then, the company has won smaller orders from Southern Railway and is poised to secure a deal to supply more trains to Transport for London.