Bombardier starts Bruges plant modernisation programme

Bruges factory Bombardier Transportation has launched a major investment and hiring plan aimed at increasing the production capacity of its Bruges factory in Belgium.

The modernisation plan will see a more than EUR 6 million investment to increase the production capacity and as a result, the company will start hiring more employees to support the site’s increase in production.

“This plan is for us, as much an industrial necessity as a belief about the future. Despite the context of the coronavirus crisis, Bombardier is committed to moving forward with an ambitious plan for the transformation and sustainability of the Bruges site. This demonstrates the vitality of our industrial site and an unprecedented opportunity to modernise our production facilities, thanks to digital processes, cyber-tools and eco-friendly solutions,” Laurent Bouyer, President of Bombardier Transportation, France and Benelux, said.

From an industrial point of view, the investment plan will allow Bombardier to increase its production capacities by summer 2021. The company will create a new production line for 1-level coaches and for SNCB M7 cars, it will acquire new, more modern and more efficient tools and will create new workstations such as a painting presentation station and a specific workstation for customer acceptance.

Under the plan, the maintenance workshops will be modernised especially those for Traxx locomotives, for which the Bruges site is a European Centre of Excellence within Bombardier.

The modernisation plan will also support Bombardier’s suppliers. Direct investments in suppliers will enable them to be equipped with the tools required for this increase in production. Bombardier generates an income of around EUR 70 million each year for its Belgian suppliers, 80 per cent of which are located in Flanders.

According to Michel Huyghe, who was appointed as Site Director and Head of Operations for the Bruges site on January 1, 2021, the company’s “order book is full” as it was signed a series of contracts for the manufacture of 204 M7 coaches for SNCB, which represents around 18 months of work at the Bruges factory.  “Therefore, it is important for us to invest massively in our production capacities and to develop our activities, for the benefit of the entire rail industry and the region,” Huyghe said.

Regarding skills and knowledge, this plan includes the hiring of at least 180 additional employees to meet the increased production needs in terms of volume and skills. To date, 100 employees have been offered a permanent contract, while 80 others are being hired with a two-year fixed-term contract, with the possibility of converting this into a long-term contract.

The industrial site in Bruges is the only Bombardier’s site in Belgium that still has the capacity and equipment to build and test trains from A to Z. The Bruges site covers 173,000 m², offering possibilities for further expansion and development.

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