Wabtec, the international supplier of critical components, locomotives, services, signalling and logistics systems and services to the global rail industry, has announced that it is looking to make 450 redundant out of its workforce in Doncaster – almost half the total.
In a statement, a Wabtec spokesman explained: “The transit rail industry in the United Kingdom is changing, as rail operators are updating their fleets with new rolling stock rather than refurbishing existing trains. In 2019, Wabtec’s Doncaster site completed most of its refurbishment projects and has a strategy in place to fulfil the remaining commitments.
“Given these realities, Wabtec is proposing to realign the site to focus on specific projects best suited for its operational strengths and better position the facility for long-term success.
“Decisions like this are never easy, but it will improve the site’s cost competitiveness and offer customers the best value. The proposed realignment includes a gradual workforce reduction of up to 450 employees from the third quarter of 2020 to the first quarter of 2021.
“The company will enter a 45-day consultation period with the trade union and employee representatives to discuss the proposal and improved work practices.
“Wabtec is focused on meeting customer commitments and providing impacted employees with resources and benefits needing during this transition.”
The rail industry is indeed buying new fleets of trains like never before. As a result, trains such as East Midlands Railway’s Class 222 Meridian fleet, only 15 years old, will shortly be out of work. And the HST 125 fleet, for a long time a stalwart of main line services, is being either retired or sent to highland services in Scotland.
So, firms such as Wabtec, which specialises in refreshing, repairing and updating older trains, are finding it tough. They are having to look for new workstreams, and there isn’t a lot out there.
While Covid-19 hasn’t helped, that’s not what has caused this problem, which would probably have occurred even if the Coronavirus hadn’t.
Hopefully, there won’t be too many more cases like this.