Rail industry leaders have called on the government to authorise the purchase of more Elizabeth line trains before it’s too late to be able to order them.

The Elizabeth line is expected to need additional trains because the plans to extend the HS2 railway from Old Oak Common in West London to Euston station have been delayed. When it opens in less than a decade’s time, Old Oak Common will send huge numbers of people onto the Elizabeth line to complete their trip into London.

Alstom’s Derby factory, where the Class 345 Elizabeth line trains were built can take on orders for the additional trains that will be needed, but if the order isn’t placed imminently, then Alstom will have to demobilise the production line, with the expectation of job losses in Derby.

Based on the initial expected service of three HS2 trains per hour arriving at Old Oak Common and Elizabeth line at 24 trains per hour, TfL’s current projection is nearly 53,000 Elizabeth line passengers between Old Oak Common and Paddington going east in the morning peak (7am-10am), and 49,000 Elizabeth line passengers going west between Paddington and Old Oak Common in the evening peak (4pm-7pm) while it’s the terminus for HS2.

That increase in passengers means TfL expects to need four additional trains to cope with the extra demand.

A joint letter from TfL’s Transport Commissioner, Andy Lord, Unite’s General Secretary, Sharon Graham and Alstom’s Managing Director, Nick Crossfield, warns that delays will see job losses in Derby and across the country at companies that supply the components for the trains.

In the letter, the three leaders said “To stop this happening, TfL must have confirmation of funding from Government to allow it to place the order. Given the small size of the order required, delaying it would require Alstom to mobilise a new production facility at a much higher cost. If we miss the opportunity with Alstom, it may be impossible to achieve elsewhere and HS2 will not achieve the programme aspirations for Old Oak Common.”

“We are jointly ready to work collaboratively with Ministers, and we encourage you to quickly convene the relevant parties to progress a way forward at pace.”

In a recent Commissioner Report, TfL confirmed that the Department for Transport (DfT) has “endorsed the strategic case to procure additional class 345 Elizabeth line trains”, and at the moment, TfL is working with the DfT to confirm the necessary financial support.

However, with the deadline getting closer, they need a decision to be made soon.

The joint letter is also supported by a recent report from the Railway Industry Association (RIA), which warned that thousands of jobs and decades of experience would be at risk of being lost due to the lack of regularly reliable train orders.

One of the most significant issues the train manufacturers face is a tendency for the government to go into feast/famine mode when authorising orders for new trains. The RIA report recommended that orders for new trains and upgrades should be confirmed for at least any rolling stock that will be 35 or more years old by 2030.

An order for new Elizabeth line trains placed this year would smooth out the order spikes a little bit and preserve the jobs in Derby while future rolling stock orders for other parts of the UK are sorted out.


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