Monthly Archives: June 2011

Another blow for British manufacturing.

I don’t normally buy newspapers but on a Sunday I buy two. I’m at the newspaper shop by about 8.30am on a Sunday morning and start the day with fresh coffee and a good read about what is happening in the world and closer to home. One of those papers is the Sunday Times because I like the in-depth coverage, particularly¬†of foreign news.

In today’s paper I noticed one small story that barely got a mention and the news article could be easily missed but I think its a significant story and its another sign that Great Britain is losing its manufacturing capability. The story was about the fact that Britain’s last remaining manufacturer of trains is probably going to close. This is because they have heard that they have lost a bid to build and maintain trains for Thameslink which would have been worth over ¬£3 billion and guaranteed the jobs of thousands of workers at the Bombardier plant in Derby.

Britain was the country that invented the steam locomotive nearly 200 years ago. It was George Stephenson that invented the first railway line in 1825 which was the start of Britain’s Industrial Revolution. In a bizarre decision the Department of Transport has given the contract to build 1,200 train carriages to the German firm Siemens. The Derby firm employs 3,000 people in Derby, 2,000 elsewhere and another 10,000 in the supply chain.

The reason for awarding the train contract to a German company have not been given but this is a terrible decision for British workers and the country. As a nation we are gradually losing the manufacturing skills that we have and once they are lost these skills are lost forever. Does the department that makes these decisions not consider the knock on effects? When jobs are lost it affects everybody as these people lose their spending power so local shops and other industries suffer too.

Was the bid from Siemens so much better that it warranted harming the British economy and more importantly the lives of thousands of British workers? I doubt it !