Beds, Herts & Bucks

Thameslink RMT to ballot over strike

Cauldwell Walk depot Image copyright Google
Image caption The future of the Cauldwell Walk depot depends on the next Thameslink franchise, FCC said

Rail engineers on the Thameslink line are to be balloted on strike action over jobs which the RMT says follows the contract signed with Siemens.

RMT officials say First Capital Connect (FCC) staff at Bedford's Cauldwell Walk depot will lose their jobs when Siemens starts to build new Thameslink trains.

Workers have not been asked if they want to transfer to new depots, a spokesman said.

FCC said it was "disappointed" the union was planning action.

The cross-London Thameslink route provides train services between Bedford and Brighton.

'No choice'

German firm Siemens won the contract to build the new train carriages in June 2011 as part of a £6.5bn programme to provide longer trains and more frequent services.

Image copyright Other
Image caption Siemens will deliver the first new trains in 2015

They are being constructed in Germany with new depots being built at Hornsey and Three Bridges to maintain them.

The RMT said it was also concerned the existing FCC fleet of 319 trains, currently maintained in Bedford, were in the process of being transferred to Northern Rail.

Acting general secretary, Mick Cash, said it had continued to raise concerns about transfers and job protection rights but information from management had been "sketchy or even non-existent".

The RMT had "no choice" but to ballot for action, he said.

David Statham, the managing director of FCC, said the future of the depot depended "entirely on the plans of the next franchisee", which has yet to be announced.

"We understand the frustration of staff at Bedford at the lack of clarity about the future of the site and the effect this has on them," he said.

"We have given a commitment to share whatever information we have as soon as it becomes available."

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