Rail depot axe plans put 40 jobs in jeopardy

Network Rail announced plans to pull out of Millerhill. Picture: Julie Bull
Network Rail announced plans to pull out of Millerhill. Picture: Julie Bull
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Dozens of jobs are feared to be at risk after Network Rail announced plans to pull out of a key depot and move operations to England.

Workers have been informed of the rail operator’s plans to shift their track engineering and maintenance functions from the Millerhill depot to Carlisle.

The move has met with an angry reaction from local politicians and unions who are calling on the Scottish Government to intervene.

Network Rail say the depot has been earmarked for a new fleet of electric trains for the Glasgow-Edinburgh line, but there are fears the current plans could undermine its viability.

Lothians Labour MSP Neil Findlay said: “These are really worrying times for the staff at the Millerhill depot. Network Rail are proposing to move around 40 jobs out of Edinburgh and down to Carlisle and there hasn’t been a cheap from the Scottish Government.

“Transport Minister Derek Mackay should intervene now and lobby Network Rail. I will be writing to the Scottish Government and Network Rail about these matters.”

The depot provides ballast for tracks in Scotland and is also used by DB Schenker. It is feared that the closure would threaten jobs both directly and throughout the supply chain back to Lanarkshire where the ballast is sourced.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said the union was now taking the issue up with the Scottish Government.

He said: “They cannot sit back while a key rail resource, which has cost millions of pounds to develop and which has a vital role to play in the future as rail capacity is expanded across Scotland, is destroyed in an act of 
industrial vandalism.

“The depot sits in an area which was ravaged by the destruction of the mining industry and provides decent jobs both directly and throughout the supply chain.

“The Scottish Government have to take this seriously and take immediate action.”

A Network Rail spokesman said Millerhill was only being used on “a temporary basis” to assist in the delivery of the Borders Railway project which is now complete.

“It has always been clear that the long-term future of Millerhill lies as a stabling and operations facility for the new electrified fleet of trains that will operate across central Scotland,” he said.

“We are working with industry partners including DB Schenker to develop a long-term logistics strategy for the railway in Scotland that will improve programme delivery and minimise costs for the taxpayer. This includes an option to develop the land at Millerhill.”