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Rail cutbacks

Wabtec to axe 100 jobs with closure of Ayrshire works

Class 320 ScotRail train

Wabtec has a contract to service ScotRail trains

Railway engineering company Wabtec intends to shut its base in Kilmarnock, and ‘consolidate’ its operations at its larger plant in Doncaster.

The move will see 100 jobs lost in Ayrshire where the company refurbishes carriages.

It is the second blow for railway maintenance in Scotland following the decision to close the St Rollox works in Glasgow last year.

Trade union Unite has challenged Wabtec’s claim that it is closing Kilmarnock due to a slowdown in work.

The union says Wabtec’s order books have been full over recent years including the award of a £7m contract to refurbish Porterbrook Leasing’s Class 170 units on lease with Abellio ScotRail. Wabtec was also awarded a train refurbishment contract worth around £8m funded by the Scottish Government.

Unite has written to Wabtec requesting that the company postpone any decision until all avenues have been explored to keep the rail yard open including intervention from the Scottish Government. 

Unite regional industrial officer, Paul Bennett, said: “It was only recently Wabtec was saying that it was fully committed to the long-term success of its Kilmarnock facility and that it planned to ‘invest accordingly’.

“We are dismayed by this decision and believe it to be completely premature. That’s why we are demanding that the company work with us to explore every avenue to bring in more work.

“Unite is also asking the Scottish Government to offer every support it can to keep the yard open in order to ensure that jobs can be supported in Kilmarnock and that some manufacturing footprint for our rail industry is still left in Scotland.”

The Doncaster works employs ten times more employees than Kilmarnock and built some of the world’s best known steam locomotives, such as the Flying Scotsman and the world steam speed record holder Mallard. It was previously operated by British Rail Engineering.

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