Setback for site

HS2 blow for Longannet’s train factory hopes

Paul Lewis, managing director, Scottish Development International; Carlos de Palacio, President of Talgo; Jon Veitch, UK director

Paul Lewis of Scottish Development International, with Carlos de Palacio, president of Talgo, and the company’s UK director Jon Veitch at the launch in Edinburgh in 2018 (pic: Terry Murden)

Scotland’s hopes of landing a 1,000-jobs train manufacturing plant appear to have been derailed with confirmation that a £2 billion HS2 contract has been awarded to two plants in England.

HS2 today said Britain’s next generation of high speed trains will be built at Alstom’s Litchurch Lane works in Derby and Hitachi’s newer factory at Newton Aycliffe in Co Durham. The deal is for 54 trains and will support 2,500 jobs across the UK.

There had been hopes that the trains would be built by Spanish firm Talgo at a new factory on the site of the Longannet coal-fired power station. But demolition today of the famous chimney may also mark Fife’s declining chances of securing the investment.

Talgo announced its plans in October 2018 for a £40m investment in an 70,000 sq ft facility near Kincardine, initially suggesting it was conditional on winning a big contract for HS2.

A month later it was chosen as the preferred UK site and in December 2019 it received planning permission from Fife Council. It said it would go ahead even without HS2 as it would focus on winning overseas work.

Latest impression of the HS2 train

In June this year it missed out on a contract to supply rolling stock for HS2 but continued to insist that this setback would not affect its plans for Longannet.

A spokesman at the time said: “It may take a little longer but we are undeterred from our goal of bringing true manufacturing to the area.”

Today’s announcement appears to have ended its hopes of achieving HS2 work and there has been no word on any overseas contracts, although the company suggested in the summer that the factory may be needed because its existing plants in Spain were operating at capacity.

A Scottish Enterprise spokesman told Daily Business: “While it is disappointing that Talgo have not been successful in their bid for the HS2 contract, the company have advised Scottish Enterprise that they remain committed to bringing operations to Scotland and we will support them to do so once we see their revised plans.

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