JOB security at Ballarat’s Alstom plant was cemented yesterday with the announcement the rail manufacturer had landed a $176 million contract.
More than 130 jobs will remain ongoing with the announcement of eight new trains to be built at Alstom’s Ballarat yards over the next two years.
Also announced yesterday was a $1.3 million track upgrade for the Ballarat Turf Club.
The rail manufacturer will produce the X’Trapolis trains for Melbourne’s metropolitan fleet at its Creswick Road yards, with completion expected in 2015.
The trains will be fitted out by the Ballarat team after the cabins are shipped from Europe.
More than 30 per cent of all components in the train are locally sourced.
The $176 million train order, to be included in the next Victorian budget, also includes funding for additional train housing facilities and signal upgrades.
In Ballarat for the announcement yesterday, Premier Denis Napthine said the real winners would be the Ballarat workers employed to fit-out the new trains.
He addressed more than 50 of them, stressing to them their jobs were secure.
“My congratulations to you for your excellent work and for the work you do in terms of delivering these trains ahead of schedule and in top condition,” Dr Napthine said.
“It’s a real tribute to your skill and ability.”
Dr Napthine said the trains were due on the network in 2015 and work would start “as soon as possible”.
Alstom executives said they were surprised by the announcement, but welcomed the train order as the plant’s existing work – 2011’s order for seven X’Trapolis trains – was nearly finished.
Workers were also pleased with the announcement.
Electrical apprentice Carl MacKenzie said his training was now guaranteed.
“It’s good for me, because it keeps me in a job. I’m a mature-aged electrical apprentice, so I’ll get to finish my apprenticeship,” he said.
“It’s good for the family too, because it helps keep food on the table back home.”
Mr MacKenzie said some people had been laid off at Alstom, mostly casual workers, but said he now had more confidence.
“There was a bit of a worry, but this is great news today and keeps everyone in a job.”
Fellow apprentice Nicole Campbell said job security was important to her.
“I’m pretty rapt, I now get to finish my apprenticeship,” she said.
“It’s really good knowing now that we’ve got work.”
Public Transport Minister Terry Mulder said the government had on order 40 new VLocity carriages for the regional network, 50 new trams, and 15 new X’Trapolis trains for the metropolitan network.