Latest Rail News

01.08.13

Government has ‘moral duty’ to assist Railcare

Rail fleet repair firm Railcare has gone into administration. 

The RMT union says staff have not got their wages and that “cash-flow problems” led to the collapse. Unite asserted that delays to orders due to the shake-up of the franchising programme also contributed. Around 40% of the permanent workforce will lose their jobs immediately, the unions said, and they called for Government to step in and assist Railcare immediately. It means that only 76 staff will remain at the Springburn site in Glasgow and 139 at the Wolverton works at Milton Keynes (pictured above).

The announcement follows the collapse of a planned takeover by a German company. BDO has been appointed as administrator.

Business secretary Vince Cable said his department was working to find a solution. “This is an important company in the supply chain and it is vital that key engineering skills and jobs are not lost. My department has been working with the company to try and find a solution. I hope a resolution can be reached soon.”

Bryan Jackson, BDO business restructuring partner, said: “Unfortunately the economic climate and difficult trading conditions significantly affected the business, together with reduced demand. However, we are hopeful of securing a sale and, depending on customer requirements, the company may continue to trade whilst this is explored.”

RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: “This crisis has left 500 staff unpaid and without any security and the root cause appears to be the franchising shambles in the wake of the West Coast fiasco.

“Vince Cable and the Government have a moral and economic duty to intervene urgently to save these jobs and protect the scheduled work and RMT will meet with him at any time to assist in moving this on. All of us now need to work together to secure these jobs and the important work that the company is involved in.”

In June, First Capital Connect said its fleet of Class 365s was to receive an interior refurbishment as part of their scheduled C6 overhaul at the Wolverton works. A spokesman said yesterday: “We are saddened to hear that Railcare has passed into administration. We are working closely with Eversholt Rail Group, which leases us the trains and is funding the programme, to find a solution that will give our passengers the improvements we want to deliver as quickly as possible.”

Cllr Peter Marland, Labour Group Leader on Milton Keynes Council and local councillor for Railcare in Wolverton said: “Railcare is hugely important to the town of Wolverton and its historic connections to the rail industry. We are looking at 175 years of history; we need to do everything to ensure the works are not consigned to the past.

“The works are of national strategic importance to the rail network, not just Milton Keynes. There is no other site like Wolverton on the West Coast Main Line and, if it is let go, it would be impossible to re-create; as would the skilled jobs on the site.

“I have spoken to both the leader and chief executive of Milton Keynes Council and all help that may be needed to keep the Works in business will be given and has been given. I have called on the council to take all the steps necessary to support staff at the works during this difficult period.

“As the local councillor, my primary concern is keeping jobs in Wolverton and that staff are paid. Mortgages, rent and bills will be due and the administrator needs to ensure that staff are paid for the work they have already done. Then we need to ensure there are no short sighted redundancies because the reality is that the outlook for the industry is very positive. I’m also looking for the Government to show leadership and to help resolve the future for this nationally important site.”

The Herald newspaper reported that ScotRail currently has three carriages at the Springburn works for refurbishment or servicing. It quoted Patricia Ferguson, Labour MSP for Springburn, as saying that the factory represented the last vestige of Springburn's proud history as a hub for locomotive manufacturing. She added: I sincerely hope that even at this late stage a buyer can be found for Railcare. Saving the jobs of over 100 people must be the priority but it would also be very sad to lose the last remnant of Springburn's proud railway history.

Tell us what you think – have your say below, or email us directly at opinion@railtechnologymagazine.com

Comments

John   02/08/2013 at 14:37

A German firm has pulled out of the buy-out negotiations? Why? What are the chances of a Management buy-out or are the accounts too "fudgy"? This needs a back up guarantee of some sort and a firm boot up the backsides of the Banks to get this going and I'm sorry but Union interference won't help here. They need to be on board and pulling together - in the same direction!

Phil Marsh - Milton Keynes   03/08/2013 at 10:32

This is indeed awful news as Wolverton Works is about to celebrate its 175th anniversary. All the latest details can be found at www.wolverton175.co.uk and at http://www.rail.co.uk/rail-news/2013/the-worlds-oldest-railway-works-enters-administration/ The anniversary book is to be published on September 3rd and is not affected by the terrible news.

Nonsuchmike   30/08/2013 at 13:28

Once again the Government tries to make political capital by announcing grandiose plans (HS2 and Crossrail2) stretching into the next decade but one, yet fails to back strategically and economically vital firms which contribute most to those plans with financial assistance when they most need it - Now. Which reminds me of those famous sayings: Words are cheap. Put your money where your mouth is.

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