Ballarat manufacturing jobs under threat

A cloud hangs over the future of Alstom after reports it has lost a bid to build more Melbourne trains. Picture: KATE HEALY

A cloud hangs over the future of Alstom after reports it has lost a bid to build more Melbourne trains. Picture: KATE HEALY

MANUFACTURING jobs in Ballarat are under a further cloud following reports train manufacturer Alstom has lost out on a bid to build more metropolitan trains.

Australian Manufacturing Workers Union official Pete Douglas revealed Alstom had told the union its bid to build rolling stock for the Dandenong rail corridor upgrade had been unsuccessful.

The decision casts doubt over the company's Creswick Road operations future, beyond an existing contract to build eight X'Trapolis trains for Melbourne's metropolitan fleet.

The company's Ballarat yard, which employs about 60 people, has enough work to keep things going until the middle of next year.

Alstom could not confirm with The Courier that its bid had been knocked back in favour of two remaining tenderers.

However, the AMWU said it was potentially a setback to manufacturing in a region which has already been hit hard by the winding down of the Australian car industry.

"The government changed the process earlier this year to open it up to unsolicited bids to upgrade the Dandenong rail corridor, which included upgraded train stations, removing rail crossings and upgrading crossing signals, along with new rolling stock," Mr Douglas said.

"Part of that was a tender to build and service 25 new trains, next generation trains with greater carrying capacity. We are not sure if they were bound by the government's minimum local content requirement of 30 per cent.

"Alstom's tender would have been pushing above the 40 per cent.

"The potential flow-on is to 30 plus local suppliers, and by local I mean Australian suppliers.

"We understand Alstom has been told its bid is unsuccessful but the two remaining bids have the facility to build trains locally but also have the means to build them overseas and that's where it gets murky."

Alstom communications director Australia and New Zealand Sheldon Young said the company was bound by confidentiality agreements.

"We have put in a proposal based on what we've done very well in Ballarat, and that is to produce high quality trains on and indeed ahead of schedule," Mr Young said.

"We have put in a strong bid but we cannot comment due to confidentiality of the process."

The Courier contacted the Department of Transport but had not received a comment before going to print.

gavin.mcgrath@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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