Rail depot closure confirmed with almost 200 jobs at risk

A rail depot in Glasgow has been marked for closure, threatening almost 200 jobs.

Gemini Rail Services took over the Springburn depot in August last year after a sale was agreed with Knorr-Bremse Rail Services.

In December, proposals were announced for the depot’s closure and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon expressed disappointment the Scottish Government only found out through media reports.

Despite a consultation being launched in January and several meetings taking place to find an alternative use for the site, Gemini has now confirmed it will close down operations.

A gradual closure will see the site shut by March 2020.

A Gemini spokesman said: “It is with sincere regret that Gemini Rail Services announces today that severely adverse market conditions affecting its core business means it will be closing down operations at its Springburn site.

“Following this difficult decision, the company will proceed with a gradual closure programme completing existing projects before our final exit in March 2020.

“Gemini will continue to work with the Scottish Government and stakeholders over the site’s future use, including the possibility of a transport hub.”

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

It said it will see 6,648 vehicles last year drop to just 1,407 in 2024 – with only around 10% in Scotland and the north of England where Springburn serves.

Mick Cash
Mick Cash, general secretary of the RMT, has criticised Gemini’s decision (Jonathan Brady/PA)

The spokesman added: “We of course know and accept this decision will have an impact on our workers, their families, and the wider community. Our priority now is to fully support our employees, who have been informed of the decision.

“The company has raised the opportunity of enhanced redundancy packages. We hope to be able to agree terms with union and staff representatives shortly.

“Detailed consultations with employees and their representatives over some outstanding matters will also continue.

“Following our initial announcement in December, the company held many meetings with key stakeholders to discuss ideas over the future of the Springburn site.

“Unfortunately, despite this proactive and detailed programme of discussions, no solution was found and the board do not consider that there is any viable option to sustain the operation at Springburn.”

RMT general secretary Mick Cash slammed the decision, criticising the fact staff also found out about the decision through media reports.

He said: “Tonight’s news on Springburn is a disgraceful betrayal of the rail industry in Scotland and those politicians who have sat on their hands while this carve up has been allowed to let rip will have a heavy price to pay.

“It is frankly disgusting that Gemini haven’t even had the guts to tell the Springburn staff face to face that they are pulling the plug and have chosen instead to notify them through the media. That is pure cowardice by the company.

“‎Gemini might think they can walk away from 160 years of history and 200 engineering jobs but RMT won’t. The case for ScotRail and its engineering and fleet support to be taken into public ownership is now overwhelming.

“The campaign to save Springburn and rail engineering jobs in Scotland is far from over.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “This is extremely disappointing news for all concerned, particularly as ministers have ensured Transport Scotland and Scottish Enterprise ongoing engagement with industry partners, Gemini Rail and the unions to explore all options to keep the site open.

“However, while it would appear that Gemini Rail Services Ltd and Mutares wish to press ahead with this unwelcome closure, we will continue to do all we can to look at the potential of repurposing the site.

“Scottish Enterprise is focusing on creating a sustainable future for the site as a rail transport engineering hub and discussions with interested parties are being assessed.

“It will clearly take time to develop a proposal that the industry feels is viable, something that is made very difficult by the timescale Gemini have set for the closure, despite our repeated requests to them to postpone or extend the timeline.”