By Daniel Hunter
The Mayor of London was in Northern Ireland recently to open a manufacturing plant that will build the chassis for the new bus for London.
The order for 600 of these new buses is set to provide 50 new jobs and the Mayor’s visit highlights how investment in the capital’s transport system has the knock on benefit of providing jobs and growth throughout the rest of the UK.
Wrightbus, a family-owned company based in Ballymena, County Antrim, will build 600 of the Mayor’s new bus for London vehicles — the greenest diesel hybrid buses in the world — over the next three years. The chassis plant, in Antrim, was only created after the Mayor’s order for 600 new buses was placed. There are currently around 40 people employed at the chassis plant and that will increase to around 90 people when full production is underway.
As well as opening the new chassis plant the Mayor will travel to the main Wrightbus factory in Ballymena to view the full production line. The Wright Group employs more than 1,400 local people and TfL’s order of new bus for London vehicles will sustain 220 jobs in the Wrightbus factory over the next three years.
The order has also resulted in the creation of 40 new jobs in the Wrightbus factory and the fleet of new bus for London vehicles will be supported by the Wrightbus Customcare after sales service, which will expand its workforce with 10 new jobs. The new bus for London contract will also sustain 18 apprenticeships over the life of the contract, six per year over the three year contract.
New figures released by TfL show that investment in London’s transport network is safeguarding jobs across the whole of the UK, with more than 60 per cent of TfL’s spend through its supply chain going to suppliers outside of London. Investment in London’s transport network supports 40,000 jobs in the UK supply chain, with a further 19,000 supported in the supply chain within London.
TfL buys from a wide range of suppliers across the UK including rails from Scunthorpe, trains from Derby, signalling technology from Chard, pumping equipment from Shropshire, lubrication equipment from Liverpool and cable from Chester-le-Street. The construction of Crossrail is also bringing huge benefits to UK PLC. Throughout the project and its supply chain it is estimated that enough work will be generated to create the equivalent of 55,000 full time jobs.
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “London’s transport network is the supply line for new jobs and growth around the whole of the United Kingdom. We already support 40,000 jobs outside of the capital and we believe we can create more. The programme of transport improvements we want to see in the capital is bursting at the seams with job generation potential, and that is why protecting investment in London transport should be the Government’s top priority as they consider how best to conduct this summer’s spending review.”
London’s Transport Commissioner, Sir Peter Hendy CBE said: “This chassis plant and the Wrightbus main plant in Ballymena are a real demonstration of the important role investment in London’s transport network plays in supporting jobs and growth throughout the UK. Sustained and long term investment is vital to our suppliers so they have the certainty to invest in jobs including apprenticeships across the country.
“London’s population is increasing by the equivalent of one full Tube train of people every week. Without sustained investment we will not be in a position to keep pace with the capital’s population, which is expected to hit nine million by 2018.”
As well as the manufacture of the chassis and superstructure in Northern Ireland, a number of components for the new bus are made by companies from around the UK; including engines from Darlington, seats from Telford, seat moquette from Huddersfield, wheelchair ramps from Hoddesdon and flooring from Liskeard. All of these companies have received a boost as a result of the new bus project.
Transport for London recently confirmed that the final costs for the purchase of 600 new bus for London vehicles, along with the way that the buses are being procured, means that millions of pounds will be saved over the life of the vehicles. The new bus is also the greenest diesel electric hybrid bus in the world. It produces a quarter of the PM and NOx of the fleet average hybrid bus, and 20 per cent less CO2.
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