Misery for ABB as 700 railway carriage jobs go

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ABB Transportation, the former British Rail engineering arm Brel, is to cut 700 jobs at its Derby carriage works. A further 600 may be lost if the company fails to secure a contract for trains for London Underground's Northern Line, writes Mary Fagan.

The company said it would try to achieve as many of the redundancies as possible by voluntary means. It had no alternative but to make the cuts because it had completed work on refitting British Rail trains and was nearing the end of a contract to supply tube cars for London Underground's Central Line.

The job losses will increase pressure on the Government to approve the Northern Line contract. Without that, ABB Transportation said that work at Derby would quickly dry up.

The company has been negotiating a pounds 440m deal with London Underground to build and maintain trains to replace 30-year-old rolling stock for the Northern Line.

The scheme has the support of Steven Norris, the transport minister, but has run into Treasury opposition.

The debate over the proposed deal, which amounts to a 20-year leasing agreement, has attracted attention because of frequent delays caused by breakdowns on the so-called 'misery line'.

Bo Sodersten, chief executive of ABB Transportation, said: 'It is desperately disappointing for the company to be in this position as during the last three years all of our employees have made a tremendous contribution to improving flexibility and productivity.' He said that he was doing all he could to win more work in the UK and overseas.