Massive orders are on track for trains

Multi-million pound deals help secure manufacturing jobs

By Anthony Gould

This week’s £100m order for new trains by Gatwick Express could be followed by another two contracts worth hundreds of millions of pounds at the end of this month.

Both South West Trains and Connex South East are expected to place orders for up to 120 electric vehicles each. Another order in the offing is for tilting trains worth £650m for the west coast mainline.

Birmingham-based train manufacturer GEC-Alsthom Metro-Cammel, part of the Anglo-French industrial group, won the £100m order for eight trains from National Express, which runs Gatwick Express.

The order, the company’s first since the privatisation of British Rail, will help secure 1,800 jobs at its Washwood Heath factory. The company fought off competition from more than 20 international train manufacturers.

Only three orders for new rolling stock have been placed in the UK since the privatisation of British Rail, the other two won by Derby-based Adtranz.

The first train, with eight coaches, is due to be delivered in December 1998, with the entire fleet in service by May 1999. The trains will be leased directly from the company in a 12-year deal including maintenance.

The steel-bodied trains, capable of 100mph, will replace units more than 24 years old.

The order is the first for GEC’s Juniper project, where a modular design of train is modified to meet customer requirements.

Derby-based train maker Adtranz, which failed in its bid for the new Gatwick Express trains, is gearing up for expected orders. It has ordered £800,000 of manufacturing control systems at its main production centres in Derby and Crewe, from computer services company Cap Gemini.

The investment is designed to help it cope with increased activity in the rail supply industry following rail privatisation. The systems are due to go live in October