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2016-10-05 - [FR] French government eyes Belfort rescue with TGV and locomotive orders

Home 2016-10-05 - [FR] French government eyes Belfort rescue with TGV and locomotive orders

In the French media and on railjournal.com:

France’s industry minister Mr Christophe Sirugue told a meeting of union representatives and elected officials in Belfort on October 4 that the French government will fund an order for 15 TGV Euroduplex trains and 20 locomotives to save Alstom’s plant in the town from closure.

Sirugue also confirmed that French National Railways (SNCF) will also order a batch of six TGVs for Paris - Lyon - Turin services. Power cars for all 21 trains will be built at Belfort, securing the medium-term future of the plant, which employs 480 staff.'

Railcolor: it is not an order yet, but a plan. Last September, Alstom announced to close the Belfort site as a manufacturing location and to reform it as service point. 400 of the 480 employees would be re-assigned to another Alstom factory in France. However, president Mr François Hollande intervened and blocked the plan. Not only does he care about the factory and its workforce, Hollande is also facing elections next year and closing yet another factory is bad news for his campaign.

But if this new 'save Belfort' plan will be executed is to be seen. It depends on whether or not this governmental intervention is regarded as (illegal) state aid or not. Next to that, Alstom was not planning to stop locomotive production, nor firing people. It was slimming down its production capacity as its order portfolio was not as full as envisaged. Alstom was planning on moving its locomotive production to Reichshoffen, what will happen there when Belfort stays open? And of course there is the more general question, what is to become of Belfort on the long term? The possible new order will only bring work for around 1,5-2 years. To be continued.

Update: Lok-report.de brings a summary (scroll down) of what has been communicated in the French press yesterday. Additionally, Philippe Jacqué is answering questions from readers. The extra TGVs can be ordered directly from existing frame contracts. Curious is that some of the new TGVs will be used on conventional intercity lines.

For SNCF, twenty support and rescue locomotives will be ordered (French: '20 locomotives diesel pour le remorquage de trains en panne).

Alstom will have to invest 40 million euro in Belfort, to be used for expanding it product portfolio (locomotives and electric busses), creating new jobs in the service department. 30 million euro will go into the 'development of new diesel or hybrid locomotives'.

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