The last company making trains in the U.K. announced it would eliminate more than 1,400 jobs Tuesday, angering unions and diminishing a British city historically known for its trains.
Bombardier had hoped to win a multimillion-pound order for 1,200 new train carriages as part of the Thameslink main line rail project. But when the British government decided to make German company Siemens the Thameslink preferred bidder, Bombardier was forced to lay off some 446 permanent staff and 983 temporary hires at its central England plant in Derby. Bombardier is a Canadian company that makes trains in the U.K.
Bombardier called it “a sad time” for Derby, a city in which rail work dates back to 1840, a city that’s home of the British Rail Research Division — which introduced the high-speed Advanced Passenger Train in the 1970s, and a city once favored to be the location of a national railway center.
U.K. Transport Secretary Philip Hammond blamed the losses on terms of procurement put into place by the previous administration, and said the only option was to award the Thameslink contract to the best-value bid.
Len McCluskey, general secretary of the country’s biggest trade union, Unite, told the Guardian that three months ago the government “had wanted the words ‘made in Britain and created in Britain’ to drive our country forward.”
“Today, these hollow words will stick in the teeth of the loyal and hardworking men and women at Bombardier,” he said.