Glasgow & West Scotland

Protest held outside Gemini Rail depot as it faces closure

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Media captionThe workers were led out of the site by a piper

A protest is being held outside a rail depot in Glasgow that is facing closure after 163 years.

Work is due to dry up at the St Rollox "Caley" rail site in Springburn, where ScotRail trains are maintained.

In March owners Gemini Rail Services confirmed to workers their intention to close down the site.

Campaigners have called for the Scottish government to nationalise the site, but the government insists nationalisation is not an option.

On Friday the last train from the current schedule of works was set to leave - the RMT union is holding a rally as they call on the plant to be saved.

The workforce was led out by a piper.

The union, Unite, said 200 highly-skilled jobs will be directly and indirectly threatened by the closure. The majority of work on Scotland's rail stock could be carried out in England in the future.

Pat McIlvogue, Unite regional industrial officer, said: "The Caley workforce will leave with their heads held high.

"If there is no urgent intervention by the Scottish government then this will be the last day of a long and proud 163 years history.

"However, we still believe that if there is the necessary political will then this doesn't need to be the case."

Scottish Labour want the depot to be nationalised. The party's leader Richard Leonard urged the Scottish government on Wednesday to "act immediately" to save the depot.

Image caption James Healy, 64, said he would be willing to train the next generation of workers for nothing if the depot remained open

James Healy, 64, started work at the depot as a plumber in 1977.

Over the years he worked as a fitter, engineer, inspector and a charge hand.

His career took him all over Britain and he even helped maintain US tanks in Kuwait during the Gulf War.

Mr Healy said: "I am very sad to see it go.

"It was really good to work here. It was a big family.

"It was be totally missed for Springburn and Scotland."

With the right support he said the depot could go for another 200 years.

Close to tears, Mr Healy added: "I would actually go in there and show young people what to do for nothing, honestly.

"That's how much I feel."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The Springburn facility maintains trains for ScotRail

Speaking as his party, in collaboration with Unite the Union, launches a series of campaign videos in an attempt to save the depot, Mr Leonard said: "There are only a few days left to save the future of railway engineering in Scotland - there is no time to waste.

"The SNP government should be prepared to step in and take it into public ownership to secure its future."

The Scottish government indicated that it was unable to nationalise the site due to state aid rules and challenges from other companies who offer the same service.

A Scottish government spokesman said: "It is clearly very disappointing that Gemini Rail commenced closure of the Springburn works and this is a very concerning time for the remaining staff and their families.

"The timescale Gemini Rail set as part of the statutory consultation process was too short and did not allow a meaningful review of options for the site.

"However, despite our representations, Gemini has refused to postpone the closure. No other business in the rail sector has expressed solid interest in the site in its current form, that is why Scottish Enterprise is doing all it can to look at the potential of repurposing the site to ensure a sustainable future."

A spokeswoman for Gemini Rail Group said the company had no comment to make on the matter.

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