High profile projects and high levels of investment have seen a number of foreign train companies circling the UK. There has been a high level of public and private scrutiny on foreign involvement with British Rail, so what can companies such as Talgo, Stadler, Voith and others do to ingratiate themselves?
Think Long Term
A large number of foreign companies are already actively involved with the British Rail Networks but companies such as Hitacthi, Bombardier and Alstrom didn’t just pop up overnight. These companies have had a base in the UK for a long period of time and many have invested heavily in order to operate here. If new companies are looking to set foot in the UK market it’s important that they don’t just have a sales office. Companies that create jobs and growth in the UK will undoubtedly be rewarded with more contracts in the future. To compliment this, future franchise contracts are planned to run for more than 15 years in the hopes that any company that does win will re-invest into infrastructure.
Play to UK strengths
In the past there was scrutiny that despite investment, many of the jobs being created by foreign operated companies were only low level assembly jobs and that components themselves were still being made overseas. You only need to look at Hitatchi Rail’s £82m investment into their new Newton Aycliffe facility to see this isn’t the case. As well as having purpose built manufacturing and assembly, they have also put testing and product development at the core of what they do. The site incorporates a Research and Development facility with its own test track on site.The UK is seen as a world leader when it comes to new technology and high precision manufacturing. It’s important that foreign companies looking to set up shop here should play to our strengths, and think strategically with the roles created rather than creating jobs simply as a box ticking exercise.
Support UK Businesses
As well as investing into their own manufacturing facilities, it’s important to think about the impact that any company has on the supply chain and sub-contract marketplace. In order to meet demand, it’s crucial that companies diversify and expand their supply chain in the UK. By using local suppliers not only do foreign companies give back to the UK, they shorten lead time needed for valuable parts and ensure smooth running of both assembly and repairs.
Train passengers have doubled in the last 20 years and are set to do so again, so in order to meet that demand we will need investment both from foreign companies and local ones such as Viva Rail. It's important that impact on jobs, manufacturing and long term sustainability are all integrated in any contract wins. Bronte Precision are a company that supports many of the UK’s Rolling Stock Manufacturers through the precision machining of a wide range of parts, we are based in Bradford and ISO certified.