Khan highlights supply chain impact during Wrightbus visit
During a visit to Wrightbus in Ballymena, Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan has warned that job losses could result if TfL is not properly funded.
Khan is urging the Government to provide longer-term capital funding to TfL to ensure the continued success of the supply chain, which supports tens of thousands of jobs across the country.
Visiting Wrightbus’ Ballymena factory to see the production of new electric double-decker buses, the Mayor reiterated how thousands of jobs around the UK linked to major transport projects in London could be at risk if TfL does not get the longer-term funding it needs.
The 30 buses, ordered by Abellio, are the first electric double-deckers to be manufactured for London in Northern Ireland and will be rolled out in October on the route 111, linking Kingston to Heathrow. Wrightbus has also supplied London with hydrogen double-deckers.
The innovation and technology used for these buses is based in Ballymena. Wrightbus has a large engineering team in the town with around 90 people in R&D, and it also funds 35 research posts at Belfast’s Queen’s University. The company currently employs 25 apprentices and is recruiting more.
The contract for these buses is supporting around 800 jobs linked to skilled manufacturing, with plans to now expand the workforce. Overall production at the factory will be almost double this year compared to last year, driven largely by the desire for zero emission buses.
TfL’s supply chain stretches around the country, including Switch Mobility and ADL, creating jobs, capacity and certainty for the wider national zero emission bus market. TfL contracts support tens of thousands of jobs outside London and contribute around £7bn to the UK economy.
Throughout the pandemic the Government has refused to provide TfL with a long-term funding deal that would allow it to invest for the future, and TfL is forced to plan for a ‘managed decline’ scenario that would see services cut. Last month, the Government announced it would fund TfL until 24 June.
“…as it stands the Government’s short-term funding deals are trapping TfL on life support and putting innovation, economic growth and jobs like this at risk…” – Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “Londoners will soon see the all-electric buses built at this Ballymena factory on the capital’s roads, adding to our ever increasing zero-emissions bus fleet and illustrating how investment in our capital can support innovation and jobs in green technology across the country.
“This is a prime example of how TfL’s supply chain stretches throughout the UK, supporting jobs, capacity and certainty for the national move towards a zero emission bus market, helping to clean up our filthy air.
“Each new electric bus operating on the streets of London and other UK cities also means less reliance on fossil fuels.
“However, as it stands the Government’s short-term funding deals are trapping TfL on life support and putting innovation, economic growth and jobs like this at risk, as well as slowing our efforts to improve energy security. I urge the Government to engage with TfL and City Hall in good faith over the next few months so that we can finally agree a fair, longer-term funding deal that will protect London’s transport network – for the sake of the capital and the whole country.”
“We’re proud to be a UK company that is not only supporting the UK’s decarbonisation push thanks to our zero-emission buses, but that is creating and supporting jobs in the UK at the same time” – Buta Atwal, Wrightbus CEO
Buta Atwal, Wrightbus CEO, said: “We were delighted to welcome Sadiq Khan to our Ballymena factory to see the world-leading StreetDeck Electroliners in production. We’re looking forward to seeing them on the roads of London and helping to improve air quality later this year.
“We’re proud to be a UK company that is not only supporting the UK’s decarbonisation push thanks to our zero-emission buses, but that is creating and supporting jobs in the UK at the same time.
“We design and manufacture our buses in Northern Ireland using parts that are, as much as possible, made and sourced in the UK and we directly employ almost 900 people, with many thousands more supported throughout the UK supply chain. As a result, every new Wrightbus-made zero emission bus for the capital is not just good news for air quality in London, but for jobs across the UK.”
“Here at Abellio we believe that continued and sustained investment in the capital’s zero-emission fleet is essential to attract more people to use public transport, which in turn promotes other modes of active travel” – Jon Eardley, Managing Director of Abellio London Bus
Jon Eardley, Managing Director of Abellio London Bus, said: “The new electric buses that Abellio is bringing to the capital this autumn will benefit Londoners and support jobs across the UK.
“This order will continue the commitment to improve the travel experience for customers by adding more state of the art, best-in-class electric buses to the streets of London, cleaning the air and helping to deliver the Mayor’s zero emission ambition.
“Here at Abellio we believe that continued and sustained investment in the capital’s zero-emission fleet is essential to attract more people to use public transport, which in turn promotes other modes of active travel.
“By working in partnership with Wrightbus and leveraging its skills and expertise we’ve co-produced a great vehicle for a great city, which everyone can be extremely proud of.”