Alstom get EU approval to buy Bombardier and will soon own Derby...

TRAX

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I knew Bombardier the parent company was losing money but I thought their train division was making money
To be honest I don’t know the financial specifics by division, but if the parent company loses money then you’d have to do something, even sell a profit-making division. But all around the world Bombardier products have been really unreliable in the recent years (Twindexx in Switzerland, Omneo in France, Aventra in the UK, Movia in the United States (MTA R179 specifically), etc.
 
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LNW-GW Joint

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I knew Bombardier the parent company was losing money but I thought their train division was making money
It's probably losing less money than the aero business, and does have a value (it might have gone to China if Alstom hadn't bought it).
The aero business is much reduced and they still have to find a profitable core.

Since Covid arrived, the situation will have got much worse in aviation, maybe not so much in trains, although new orders may be delayed as economies shrink.
Alstom itself has had near-death experiences in the last decade, kept afloat by repeated orders from SNCF mandated by the French government.
Creating a profitable business with the Bombardier operation will be no walk in the park, and some platforms are bound to go.
 

TRAX

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To be precise Alstom as a whole rarely got into that much trouble (certainly not "near-death"), the government-pushed orders have always been to save a factory in particular, not the company.
 

LNW-GW Joint

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To be precise Alstom as a whole rarely got into that much trouble (certainly not "near-death"), the government-pushed orders have always been to save a factory in particular, not the company.
Not in the last decade, but definitely "near-death" (from Wiki):

By 2003, Alstom was facing a financial crisis caused by a mix of poor sales and over $5 billion of debt liabilities; it reportedly had the potential to force the company's liquidation. These heavy debts were largely due to a $4 billion charge over a design flaw in a turbine developed by ABB Group, acquired by Alstom in 2000, as well as the collapse of customer Renaissance Cruises amid a general downturn in the marine market. Alstom's share price had dropped by 90% over two years.[22][23] European competition commission law required Alstom to sell several of its subsidiaries, including its shipbuilding and electrical transmission assets, when it accepted a €3.2 billion rescue plan involving the French state.[ /quote]
 
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To be honest I don’t know the financial specifics by division, but if the parent company loses money then you’d have to do something, even sell a profit-making division. But all around the world Bombardier products have been really unreliable in the recent years (Twindexx in Switzerland, Omneo in France, Aventra in the UK, Movia in the United States (MTA R179 specifically), etc.
I'm not familiar with the causes of unreliability of Twindexx, Omneos, and Movias, but my understanding of the majority of Aventra problems is that they are caused by traction software.

If that's correct, it just shows how much things change over time; wasn't it designed (and is still made) in the former ASEA facility in Vasteras? At one time, their traction systems were the gold standard against which all others were measured.

Before Bombardier acquired Adtranz, it used Alstom's Preston-made traction equipment in 220/221s, and this continued in the 222 derivative even though they were built after the Vasteras facility became Bombardier owned; has anything been said about the future of Bombardier made traction equipment?

At one time, Derby was being flouted as Bombardier's centre of excellence for design and manufacture of aluminium body shells; does Alstom have anything similar?
 

SHD

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At one time, Derby was being flouted as Bombardier's centre of excellence for design and manufacture of aluminium body shells; does Alstom have anything similar?
Alstom’s equivalent would be Aytré, where aluminium-based double-deck TGV trailers are manufactured, as well as Citadis trams which have an aluminium bodyshell.
 

Philip Phlopp

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If that's correct, it just shows how much things change over time; wasn't it designed (and is still made) in the former ASEA facility in Vasteras? At one time, their traction systems were the gold standard against which all others were measured.
ABB didn't divest all of their traction equipment division when they sold their stake in ADTranz, just the relevant parts of the business, possibly just the EMU traction motor business. ABB were still supplying electrical components to Bombardier until relatively recently for some of their EMU fleets.

ABB still manufacture traction equipment in Västerås, I believe most if not all of the entire traction package for the Class 68 and 88 locomotives comes from Västerås.
 

LNW-GW Joint

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I've mentioned before that the current UK CAF and Stadler EMUs use traction equipment from Traktionssysteme Austria (TSA).
This used to be a Brown Boveri site and part of ABB.
What goes around, comes around!
They also make components for Hitachi 80x.

The Bombardier use of Alstom kit on the Voyager fleet was down to Virgin specifying a common design with the Pendolino fleet (which uses Preston electrics).
The Alstom TASS system fitted to 221s is there for the same reason.
 

CTS1990

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It’s both shocking and embarrassing that the UK is the only developed economy (certainly the only G7 member) incapable of independently manufacturing much of its own infrastructure like rail rolling stock. The Alstom takeover is yet another nail in the coffin for British industry. The wonders of the ‘free market’, eh?

As others have alluded to, I sense it is a matter of time before Litchurch Lane is wound-down. Granted, it has survived previous ‘rocky patches’ long before the Alstom bid, but now it puts the whole site on borrowed time. Surely there are no further orders beyond the current Aventra line...? It could well be Washwood Heath all over again!
 

DenmarkRail

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It’s both shocking and embarrassing that the UK is the only developed economy (certainly the only G7 member) incapable of independently manufacturing much of its own infrastructure like rail rolling stock. The Alstom takeover is yet another nail in the coffin for British industry. The wonders of the ‘free market’, eh?

As others have alluded to, I sense it is a matter of time before Litchurch Lane is wound-down. Granted, it has survived previous ‘rocky patches’ long before the Alstom bid, but now it puts the whole site on borrowed time. Surely there are no further orders beyond the current Aventra line...? It could well be Washwood Heath all over again!

Well Bombardier is Canadian, and their Bombardier Transportation is based out of Berlin. The Alstom takeover isn't taking a British business out of Britain like you suggest.

You mention that "The Alstom takeover is yet another nail in the coffin for British industry", but I fail to see how that is the case? The Alstom takeover will secure the Derby facility for the years to come, and bring more stability to the business. The wonders of the free market is to go where is profitable, and Alstom wouldn't take Bombardier's division over without having a route and a plan.

After the Aventra line there will be numerous potential developments which Alstom / Bombardier can venture into... Specifically perhaps: 15X replacements, and HS2. Perhaps even further into the future we'll be looking at replacements for the entire Chiltern fleet, the Thames Turbo replacements. And even after all of that, the 390s will need replacing, as will repurposed trains like the D stock, and the 769s. Furthermore, Alstom may look towards exports from the Derby facility. As you know the railways run in cycles, and with time a new market will emerge. That doesn't mean Alstom will win everything I mentioned, but they will be in with a fighting chance. That said, the Aventra line has plenty of life left in it yet.

Obviously there is always risk that factories will close, and that isn't something I would underestimate, but I don't want to say it is over before it really is!

G
 

RailWonderer

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It’s both shocking and embarrassing that the UK is the only developed economy (certainly the only G7 member) incapable of independently manufacturing much of its own infrastructure like rail rolling stock. The Alstom takeover is yet another nail in the coffin for British industry. The wonders of the ‘free market’, eh?

As others have alluded to, I sense it is a matter of time before Litchurch Lane is wound-down. Granted, it has survived previous ‘rocky patches’ long before the Alstom bid, but now it puts the whole site on borrowed time. Surely there are no further orders beyond the current Aventra line...? It could well be Washwood Heath all over again!
Nail in the coffin? Except that regardless of who owns the plant, British workers will still be employed. At the moment, Derby has back orders for at least a few more years, although with the Covid effect on capacity, follow on orders aren't guaranteed. If they offer the right product of bi-modes or a diesel Aventra they may be still open in a decades time.
This merger is partly to defend against Asian manufacturing, to keep competitive and maintain dominance in the European rolling stock market, it's the free market working to be more efficient.
 

Mikey C

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It’s both shocking and embarrassing that the UK is the only developed economy (certainly the only G7 member) incapable of independently manufacturing much of its own infrastructure like rail rolling stock. The Alstom takeover is yet another nail in the coffin for British industry. The wonders of the ‘free market’, eh?

As others have alluded to, I sense it is a matter of time before Litchurch Lane is wound-down. Granted, it has survived previous ‘rocky patches’ long before the Alstom bid, but now it puts the whole site on borrowed time. Surely there are no further orders beyond the current Aventra line...? It could well be Washwood Heath all over again!
Washwood Heath closed down due to shoddy trains

If the Junipers had been any good, SWT no doubt would have standardised on them and Siemens might never have got their foothold in the UK
 
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I've mentioned before that the current UK CAF and Stadler EMUs use traction equipment from Traktionssysteme Austria (TSA).
This used to be a Brown Boveri site and part of ABB.
What goes around, comes around!
They also make components for Hitachi 80x.

The Bombardier use of Alstom kit on the Voyager fleet was down to Virgin specifying a common design with the Pendolino fleet (which uses Preston electrics).
The Alstom TASS system fitted to 221s is there for the same reason.
Thanks for the information about the use of Alstom kit on Voyagers being down to Virgin specifying a common design.

My understanding - from what I was told by a guy who worked in Bombardier's procurement unit at Brugge - was that the agreement with Alstom to use its equipment on certain types of trains made by Bombardier predated it winning the contract to build Voyagers; I know for certain that there were discussions within Bombardier as to whether or not the agreement it had with Alstom applied for 222s which were procured after Adtranz had been taken over, or if Vasteras made equipment could be substituted, and the view was that 222s had to have Alstom equipment.
 

TRAX

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Alstom’s equivalent would be Aytré, where aluminium-based double-deck TGV trailers are manufactured, as well as Citadis trams which have an aluminium bodyshell.
Alstom has more than one plant for that, both in France and abroad.
 

SHD

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Alstom has more than one plant for that, both in France and abroad.
True (even though I do not know of any other Alstom plant in France or abroad that currently manufactures double-deck TGV trailers), but the point was to highlight Alstom’s excellence center regarding aluminium body shells, and that is certainly Aytré.
 

TRAX

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True (even though I do not know of any other Alstom plant in France or abroad that currently manufactures double-deck TGV trailers), but the point was to highlight Alstom’s excellence center regarding aluminium body shells, and that is certainly Aytré.
No, the biggest plant for that, and also the biggest Alstom plant in France, is Valenciennes. Although of course Aytré is an important piece of this puzzle, it doesn’t build such a diverse range of trains as Valenciennes.

Just as a reminder, Alstom has 13 different production and development facilities in France. Some sites are specialised in components (motors for Ornans and Tarbes, bogies for Le Creusot, etc.), while some sites are multitask.
 

SHD

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No, the biggest plant for that, and also the biggest Alstom plant in France, is Valenciennes.
What do you mean by “that”?

Thank you for your reminder, but I am well aware that Alstom operates a complex multi-site organisation in France. The point I was addressing was the existence of a center of excellence for aluminium body shell manufacturing within Alstom’s realm. No disrespect to Alstom’s aluminium Metropolis métros or Coradia trains, but I consider the double-decker TGV trailers, even though their basic design is now 25 years old, to be the finest examples of such engineering and manufacturing in Alstom’s portfolio. Hence Aytré, although Petite-Forêt indeed has a wider product range (and is more comparable to Derby from an industrial point of view).
 

TRAX

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What do you mean by “that”?

Thank you for your reminder, but I am well aware that Alstom operates a complex multi-site organisation in France. The point I was addressing was the existence of a center of excellence for aluminium body shell manufacturing within Alstom’s realm. No disrespect to Alstom’s aluminium Metropolis métros or Coradia trains, but I consider the double-decker TGV trailers, even though their basic design is now 25 years old, to be the finest examples of such engineering and manufacturing in Alstom’s portfolio. Hence Aytré.
"That" is steel, aluminium, and structure excellence centre. Both Valenciennes and Aytré are that.

There’s no doubting that >you< are aware of Alstom’s plant organisation, but it turns out it’s not only you and me here. ;)
 
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Journeyman

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Weren't Alstom looking at getting back into the UK market with a new product range? Guess they won't need to design one now.
 

SHD

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"That" is steel, aluminium, and structure excellence centre. Both Valenciennes and Aytré are that.

There’s no doubting that >you< are aware of Alstom’s plant organisation, but it turns out it’s not only you and me here. ;)
I see, and I agree in full then ;)
 

LNW-GW Joint

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True (even though I do not know of any other Alstom plant in France or abroad that currently manufactures double-deck TGV trailers), but the point was to highlight Alstom’s excellence center regarding aluminium body shells, and that is certainly Aytré.
Not to forget Savigliano where they produce Pendolino bodies.
 

CTS1990

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Nail in the coffin? Except that regardless of who owns the plant, British workers will still be employed. At the moment, Derby has back orders for at least a few more years, although with the Covid effect on capacity, follow on orders aren't guaranteed. If they offer the right product of bi-modes or a diesel Aventra they may be still open in a decades time.
This merger is partly to defend against Asian manufacturing, to keep competitive and maintain dominance in the European rolling stock market, it's the free market working to be more efficient.
You have a lot more faith in Alstom than I do! After the GEC merger in 1989, they began to move production away from the UK to France. It makes business sense for them, no doubt, to concentrate their production lines ‘at home’ rather than bank rolling plants abroad. However, surely you accept that many manufacturing jobs in the UK were lost because of this? No UK government in decades ever stepped in to to save jobs such as these.

It’s interesting you champion the efficiency of the free market, whilst I see this as an obsession that leads to job cuts and plant closures. Again, see my initial comments; how many comparable economies to the UK own so little of their own infrastructure?

This country is little more than a ‘supermarket’ for multinationals like Alstom and others to cherry pick assets and dispose of others. It’s happened so many times before in the last three decades; your confidence in Litchurch Lane remaining open is sadly too optimistic. I would expect closure to be on the cards in the mid 2020s or so, after the current order book runs out.

Why would a French company subsidise one plant in the UK when it has extensive manufacturing sites in France? If the Aventra stock and its successor platforms are successful, and maybe exportable, they won’t remain in Derby by the 2030s.

This is all just my opinion anyway, always happy to have a good debate about these kind of things and listen to other people’s views such as yours. I’m heading into university research on UK industrial policy, so the Alstom takeover of Bombardier is going to be a large case study for me to look into properly. However, I’m also dreading it too...
 

TRAX

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You have a lot more faith in Alstom than I do! After the GEC merger in 1989, they began to move production away from the UK to France. It makes business sense for them, no doubt, to concentrate their production lines ‘at home’ rather than bank rolling plants abroad. However, surely you accept that many manufacturing jobs in the UK were lost because of this? No UK government in decades ever stepped in to to save jobs such as these.

It’s interesting you champion the efficiency of the free market, whilst I see this as an obsession that leads to job cuts and plant closures. Again, see my initial comments; how many comparable economies to the UK own so little of their own infrastructure?

This country is little more than a ‘supermarket’ for multinationals like Alstom and others to cherry pick assets and dispose of others. It’s happened so many times before in the last three decades; your confidence in Litchurch Lane remaining open is sadly too optimistic. I would expect closure to be on the cards in the mid 2020s or so, after the current order book runs out.

Why would a French company subsidise one plant in the UK when it has extensive manufacturing sites in France? If the Aventra stock and its successor platforms are successful, and maybe exportable, they won’t remain in Derby by the 2030s.

This is all just my opinion anyway, always happy to have a good debate about these kind of things and listen to other people’s views such as yours. I’m heading into university research on UK industrial policy, so the Alstom takeover of Bombardier is going to be a large case study for me to look into properly. However, I’m also dreading it too...
Alstom has kept the factories it took over in Germany (Salzgitter being the main example, taken over from LHB), so I don’t see why they wouldn’t keep Derby.
 

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