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Yet more railway jobs axed in York

York Press: 13th September 2006

ANGRY union bosses claim York's once-proud rail manufacturing industry has virtually been killed off as yet more job cuts were announced today.
york_works.jpg
An almost-deserted rail workshop in York

Fastline, part of Jarvis plc, which carries out maintenance contracts for Network Rail, is shedding up to a dozen skilled engineering jobs - leaving fewer than 30 blue collar staff at its two large workshops, off Leeman Road.

The depots, now used to maintain and service trackside wagons, once employed thousands of workers.

Stan Herschel, the Rail Maritime and Transport Union's (RMT) regional organiser, said York once boasted up to 10,000 skilled rail engineers working at sites off Leeman Road and Holgate Road. He claimed that this had now been whittled down to less than a 100, with many former workshops and maintenance yards barely used or lying empty.
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"The Government should hang their heads in shame," he said.

"There used to be so much rail work in York that we had six or seven branches - now we're down to one."

"Why are all these depots being vacated? They (rail firms) are just waiting for property developers to come in and build more extortionately-priced houses."

The demise of York's rail manufacturing began in earnest in 1996 with the closure of ABB York Carriageworks site, off Holgate Road. Despite a fierce campaign by The Press to keep open the facility, the remaining 750 workers eventually lost their jobs.

In 1997, rail manufacturing made a shock return to the Holgate Road site with the arrival of US rail giant Thrall Europa.

But it was short-lived and in June 2002, the company announced it was to close with the loss of 260 jobs.

Fastline spokeswoman Diane Mangan said that up to a dozen jobs would go out of 39 skilled maintenance workers left across the two Leeman Road sites.

"We plan to make them voluntary redundancies," she said. "We are still in the very early stages of discussions."

Ms Mangan said the losses were due to a new cost-effective maintenance regime whereby they worked with "components rather than machines".

She said some of their contract work had also now been relocated to sites out of York.

The spokeswoman said managers had now decided to keep open their largest carriage and wagon depot, which is situated on the York Central site, off Leeman Road.

"More than a century of train-making and wagon repairing history in York is coming to an end," said Bill Rawcliffe, the RMT's branch chairman.

"It leaves the city's economy almost exclusively reliant upon tourism."

Mr Rawcliffe said a meeting was planned with Fastline bosses later this month.

The decline of a once-great industry

1839: Train-making begins at repair shops in Queen Street

1865: Wagon shops are built in Holgate

1884: York Carriageworks opens

1910: Railways in their heyday, with up to 10,000 skilled workers

1970: Prince Charles visits the carriageworks

1991: British Rail Engineering Limited makes 350 workers redundant

1993: 532 jobs are axed at the carriageworks 1995:Last body shell painted

1996: 750 jobs go as ABB York Carriageworks closes

1997: US rail giant Thrall Europa arrives in York

2002: Thrall Europa closes with the loss of 260 jobs

2004: Siemens Transportation Systems sets up train care centre off Leeman Road

2002-2005: Railtrack moves south, TransPennine Express moves to Leeds and Arriva Trains Northern loses franchises

2005: Network Rail sets up a maintenance base at the former carriageworks site

September 13, 2006: Fastline, part of Jarvis plc, announces up to a dozen job losses.