Alstom plans for HS2
Only six hundred mainly low-skill UK jobs could be created if Alstom were awarded a £7,500 million contract to build HS2 trains. A few years ago, thousands of UK workers were made redundant as the nominally Anglo-French GEC Alsthom transformed into the wholly French Alstom SA.
[Plan to put double-decker trains on HS2 rail line, Alan Tovey, Daily Telegraph, 24 May 2016]
[…] The French rail company hopes to win the £7.5bn contract to build rolling stock for the planned rail line connecting London, Birmingham and Leeds and is proposing two-level trains for the route, which is hoped to be operational in 2026.
Although the final specification for the contract to build 160 trains which are each 650ft long has yet to be decided, Alstom wants twin-deck designs to be considered, saying they will bring advantages to passengers.
Henrik Anderberg, acting managing director of Alstom UK & Ireland, said: “The design means double-decker trains are no higher than a standard single deck one. However because the trains that will run on HS2 meet with European standards and are 170mm (6.7 inches) wider, we can do so much more with the space.
“A double-decker train is a unique proposition and will give a better passenger experience. We are even considering designs such as double-height bars.”
The extra level would allow the trains to hold 40pc more passengers than the 430 to 500 more on a standard train according to Alstom, and Mr Anderberg said this extra space could be utilised to create “business class train travel at economy class prices”.
[…] Alstom said should it win the contract – expected to be awarded in 2019 – it would attempt to carry out as much of the work building the trains in the UK. The company has recently been granted planning for a 30-acre site near Liverpool where it intends to set up a technical centre.
“There is no guarantee until we see the specification but we would like to do as much of the work as possible in the UK,” Mr Anderberg said. “We don’t just want to assemble the trains in the UK, we want to manufacture their systems here.”
The rail boss estimated that about 600 UK jobs would be created at Alstom if it won the contract, with more in the supply chain.
So each temporary HS2 train-building job at the Alstom UK facility in Widnes would come at a cost of around £12 million. There seems to be no chance of Alstom creating an additional supply chain in the UK, given that its French factories are short of orders.
Because of the cramped interior and limited appeal of double deck (“2N”) trains for very high speed service, Alstom’s only European customer has been the domestic operator SNCF.
So far, Alstom’s single-deck high speed train with distributed traction, the AGV, has only been ordered by the Italian private company NTV. Because they have power cars at the end of the train, the TGV 2N capacity uplift over the single deck AGV is nothing like 40%.
The likelihood is that the HS2 Y network could not be built within its budget of £55.7 billion. In the highly unlikely event that the Y network could be built within its current budget, the British government might buy second hand TGVs from SNCF, as it has large numbers of surplus trains which were ordered for make-work reasons. Or to reduce costs and faff, the plan to order a mix of captive and ‘classic compatible’ (cc) trains might be replaced by an all-cc option.
Oddly enough, Lexington Communications, which apparently has fracking company Cuadrilla among its clients, tweeted that Wolverhampton Labour MP Emma Reynolds would be hosting a ‘reception’ for Alstom in Parliament today.