The scaling back of rail projects such as the HS2 high-speed line has put over 10,000 jobs in the sector at risk, a leading industry figure has warned.
Jim Brewin, the UK boss of Hitachi Rail, raised the concerns earlier this week at a meeting attended by union chiefs, metro mayors and other senior transport executives, a leak to the Sunday Times revealed.
The prediction has been partially borne out at one manufacturing plant in Derby where leading train maker Alstom announced it was consulting over hundreds of redundancies.
It also came after Huw Merriman, the rail minister, was reported to have called into question the sustainability of the sector in its current size, saying it was operating at “double the capacity” that the UK needs.
The context in which Merriman’s comments were made frustrated bosses, who claim they have been urged by policymakers to relocate their manufacturing from Europe to Britain only to then backtrack on commitments.
This pattern of behaviour is epitomised by HS2, bosses argue, but extends to other projects such as the expansion of Dublin’s Dart service, which the transport department refused to help fund in Derby, and is now being built in Poland.
A spokesman for the Department of Transport said: “Rail manufacturing plays an important role in growing the UK economy. The government is committed to supporting the entire sector.”
He also said that Merriman’s comments were a factual assessment of the state of the industry, and not a suggestion that he thought the situation faced by train makers was satisfactory.