The first Class 730 electric units built by Alstom in Derby went into service with London Northwestern Railway this morning, when two three-car sets coupled in multiple worked the 06.04 from Bletchley to London Euston.
But the launch has been overshadowed by reports that 600 jobs are set to be lost in Derby after the Prime Minister announced that HS2 will not be built to Crewe and Manchester at the Conservative Party conference on 4 October.
Alstom is preparing a statutory consultation which will pave the way to shedding almost a third of the 2000-strong workforce at Litchurch Lane, according to The Times.
Talks with unions are understood to be taking place this week. It is expected that most of the job losses will affect agency workers rather than established staff.
There had been concern for several weeks that jobs at Litchurch Lane were at risk, after the Prime Minister’s decision implied that fewer trains will be needed for the High Speed line between London and Birmingham, which is still under construction. The HS2 fleet is to be built by a joint venture of Alstom and Hitachi.
Even before the announcement about HS2, Derby City Council had sought talks with Alstom over the possibility that jobs were being put at risk because future train orders were being delayed.
On 12 September, Derby City Council leader Baggy Shanker said: ‘The Litchurch Lane factory site is a unique asset for Derby and we understand the impact these job losses will have on our residents and the wider region.
‘As a Council, we’re ready to play our part and urge the Government and unions to work closely with Alstom to ensure a sustainable future for the factory, which would not only benefit the thousands of staff at the site, but many more across the local supply chain.’
Meanwhile, the new three-car Alstom Class 730/0s are only being used on the West Coast Main Line for now. They will be moved to local services in the West Midlands when the five-car Class 730/2s are delivered next year.
The three-car 730s will next be seen between Walsall and Wolverhampton, early in 2024. The eventual fleet of 82 trains will consist of 324 vehicles. Some of the 730/2 five-car sets will also be worked in multiple as 10-car trains.