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Regional daily's bid to force government u-turn

A regional daily newspaper is launching a bid to force the government to change its mind over the award of a multi-billion pound train-making contract to the Japanese.

Transport secretary Geoff Hoon announced last week that a consortium lead by Hitachi had been named as the preferred bidder to build 1,400 new Intercity Express carriages.

The move stunned politicians and civic leaders in Derby which had expected the work to go to local train-maker Bombardier.

Now the Derby Evening Telegraph has launched a “Change Track” campaign aimed at persuading ministers to reverse the decision and so safeguard hundreds of jobs on its patch.

Deputy editor Neil White said: “We believe the Government has made a serious mistake in selecting a Japanese-led consortium ahead of Derby train-maker Bombardier as the preferred bidder for the £7.5bn contract to build new Intercity trains.

“One of the main planks of the successful bid was that it would create or safeguard 12,500 jobs in this country.

“So far, nobody, from Government or the consortium, has been able to tell us where those jobs are or will be.

“Thus, we owe it to the 12,000 workers who depend on Bombardier for their jobs to try to get the Department for Transport to change its mind.

The award of preferred bidder status to the Japanese consortium means it is almost certain to build the carriages, but there is a brief window of opportunity for the decision to be changed before contracts are signed.

The Telegraph believes that the Government can be forced into a U-turn if enough pressure is applied.

Among those backing the campaign are the leaders of all three political groupings on Derby City Council and the Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Chamber of Commerce.

Chief executive George Cowcher said: “We are totally behind the Evening Telegraph on this. The chamber will be doing all it can to highlight how important it is that the Government supports Bombardier.”