The news that Thrall of the US is to take over the former ABB rail works at York to build freight wagons is welcome.
Initially the job count will be just a tenth of the figure when the works was privatised in 1990. Long-term, York’s future may well depend on whether piggybacking – carrying lorry trailers on rail wagons – gains acceptance. Thrall is expected to manufacture piggyback wagons at York if and when they gain approval.
Progress on bringing services into reality has been painfully slow and regulatory hurdles remain to be overcome.
But if the Government’s commitment to an integrated transport policy and to moving freight traffic from road to rail means anything, piggybacking must surely have a central role to play. Given Government support to establish a network of freight terminals where transhipment can take place, rail manufacture at York could once again have a bright future.