Virgin Rail this week confirmed preferred bidders for contracts worth almost £2bn for building and maintaining rolling stock.
The orders should at the least secure employment levels at the winning bidders’ UK plants, although no details of numbers were available.
Virgin named Bombardier of Canada as the preferred bidder in a £850m contract to build and maintain 55 diesel-powered trains for its CrossCountry service.
Bombardier has been instructed to proceed with design work pending finalisation of the contract.
Final assembly of the coaches will be at Bombardier Transportation’s Prorail factory in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, with much of the manufacturing being carried out at plants in Brugge, Belgium and Crespin, France. The Wakefield plant employs 700 staff at a 52,000m2 facility which has recently been modified.
‘The new contract will provide a total of 800 person years’ work,’ said Ralph Bennett, Prorail’s managing director.
The first trains are scheduled to enter service in May 2000, with all units due to be delivered by May 2002.
Virgin Rail also confirmed this week that the joint GEC-Alsthom and Fiat Ferroviaria bid was the preferred supply for new high speed tilting trains designed for use on the West Coast Main Line.
The contract is worth an estimated £1bn.
The trains will be assembled at GEC-Alsthom’s plant at Washwood Heath, Birmingham, and the Fiat Ferroviaria facility in Savigliano, Italy.