First Minister urged to help save rail depot where 200 jobs are at risk

10 April 2019, 07:23

Train tracks

A union has written to Nicola Sturgeon in the hope the Scottish Government can save a rail depot from closure, with around 200 jobs at risk.

The Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) has asked the First Minister to take the Springburn depot in Glasgow into public ownership.

Gemini Rail Services took on the site in August last year after a sale was agreed with Knorr-Bremse Rail Services.

In December, proposals were announced for its closure.

Despite a consultation in January and several meetings taking place to find an alternative use for the site, Gemini confirmed last month it will begin a gradual closure up until it shuts by March 2020.

Grahame Smith, STUC general secretary, said: "There is a clear need to retain this depot in Scotland and it would be a matter of serious regret should ScotRail trains have to be sent to Doncaster and Southampton to be refurbished while we have the skills, knowledge and experience in Springburn.

"Unite the union has presented a number of options to keep the site open, including taking the site into public ownership.

"We urge the Scottish Government to seriously consider the option of public ownership of the Springburn depot.

"This would ensure a nationally important piece of transport infrastructure is maintained alongside highly skilled jobs.

"Without such action, we will continue to see the casualisation of the sector and the loss of strategically important infrastructure."

He added: "The welcome Scottish Government intervention at Prestwick Airport illustrates the precedent for public ownership of transport infrastructure.

"Time is of the essence and there is a real risk that the viability of the site will diminish unless action is taken now."

The introduction of more modern trains, leading to a drop in the number of pre-privatisation stock in operation, is one of the reasons given for the decision.

Gemini previously said it will record a drop from 6,648 vehicles last year to just 1,407 in 2024 - with only around 10% in Scotland and the north of England, which Springburn serves.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: "It is disappointing that Gemini Rail has consistently refused to postpone the consultation and has instead moved to close the workshops at Springburn - that is something the Transport Secretary has made clear, including in meetings as recently as last week.

"Ministers and officials will continue to do all they can in looking to the potential for repurposing the site, however, any proposals have to be viable in the longer term."