Train-maker Bombardier has held a ceremony to mark the end of production of a train that many workers believe kept the firm’s Derby factory from closing.
At the event, which was held at the Litchurch Lane firm’s test facility – called V Shop – staff both past and present joined Bombardier Transportation’s managing director Richard Hunter to see the final Electrostar carriage roll off its production line.
Since the Derby site starting making the Electrostar in 1999, Bombardier has made 2,805 carriages and delivered them to 12 different customers.
An electric-powered train, it began being made at Derby when the Litchurch Lane site was operated by ADtranz. Bombardier continued production of the Electrostar after it took over ADtranz in 2001.
Today, the Electrostar is the most common electric train on Britain’s rail network since before the privatisation of British Rail.
Variants of the train are predominantly used on suburban commuter routes in south, north and east London. They are also used on mainline services south to Surrey, Sussex, Kent and South Essex coasts and north to Cambridge and Stansted Airport .
The Electrostar is also one of the few trains at Bombardier’s Derby site to be exported, when it was selected for use on the Gautrain system in South Africa, a new railway between Johannesburg, Pretoria, and the Johannesburg International Airport.
For each train, the components were made in Derby and then exported for assembly in South Africa.
The Electrostar has been around for 18 years and has been delivered to 12 different customers
But the Electrostar has now been overtaken by a new electric-powered train that has been designed, developed and built in Derby – the Aventra.
In recent years, the Aventra has helped the Litchurch Lane factory win a glut of new orders. It has helped Bombardier win deals including Elizabeth Line (formerly Crossrail) and the new West Midlands Trains, Greater Anglia and South West rail franchises.
At the ceremony, Bombardier staff were also joined by past and present Electrostar customers, as well as Derby South MP Dame Margaret Beckett.
Speaking at the event, Mr Hunter said: “The train has been a stunning success – in production and in operation. That is a tribute to the brilliant and highly-skilled workforce we have here in Derby, but also our services depots across the country.
Richard Hunter, UK managing director of Bombardier Transportation, paid tribute to his workforce
“I’d like to pay tribute to our engineers and designers, our production and test teams, our services teams and our suppliers who together have ensured this has been the most successful electric train in the UK for a very long period of time.”
Dame Margaret said: “If you’re good at what you do, which Bombardier clearly is, you can have a long future ahead of you. There are not so many places that can be as confident of that today.
“The Electrostar is a real triumph for everyone who has been involved at every stage. We are now hoping for similar success and longevity for the Aventra. That train has already got customers lined up from different parts of the country and hopefully one day different parts of the world.
“It’s a bit sad to the see the Electrostar go but what is really important is that it is making way for something that will lay a similarly solid foundation for the future.”
Neil Shaw (left) and Colin Place both worked on Electrostar as engineers
Looking on were many staff who had worked on the original Electrostar design and development programme in the mid to late 1990s.
Neil Shaw, who was a project manager, said: “We started on the Electrostar in 1996, three years before it went into production. I am very proud to have worked on the train, which was quite revolutionary for the time.
“Initially, it was thought that we would build around 300 to 400 and it would be an eight-year programme. But the fact that it has lasted 18 years and over 2,800 have been made is fantastic.”
Colin Place, who initially worked on Electrostar as a propulsion engineer, said: “The Electrostar has been so important to Derby, bringing important orders in over the years that have allowed the factory to stay open.
The Electrostar can be seen operating commuter routes in London
“I think it would be fair to say that not only would there be no Aventra without Electrostar – but there would be no Derby factory if it had not been for Electrostar.”
The final Electrostar which was on display at the ceremony was ordered by Derby train-leasing firm Porterbrook and is destined for the Great Western Railway.
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Greg Moss, Bombardier’s production manager for the Electrostar, said: “I’ve worked on Electrostar since 2011. It has been my baby all that time so it is a bit emotional to know this is the last one.
“But these trains have a 30-year life-span so you can be rest assured that you will continue to see this train on the UK’s rail network for some decades to come.
“Personally, I will now be moving on to the Aventra very soon – and that is something that is very exciting. The Aventra takes many of the best bits from the Electrostar. I hope the Aventra enjoys just as much success as Electrostar did.”
Source: Derby Telegraph