Merseytravel faces legal challenge over new £460m fleet

Merseytravel has confirmed that it will face a legal challenge from the transportation company Bombardier over how it awarded a £460m contract to deliver its new Merseyrail fleet.

Last December, Bombardier missed out in its bid to replace the operator’s existing 40-year-old fleet with a brand new set of 50 trains which are due to enter service at the end of 2020.

The Swiss firm Stadler was named as the preferred bidder by the Merseytravel committee and Liverpool city-region leaders, fighting off four other train manufacturers, including Bombardier who were also in the running for the contract.

A spokesman for Merseytravel said: “We can confirm that Bombardier has issued a legal challenge with the High Court in relation to Merseytravel’s decision to award the contract for a fleet of new trains to Stadler.

“We are confident that we can robustly defend this challenge. However, it would be inappropriate for us to comment further at this stage because the process is subject to ongoing legal proceedings.

“We are hopeful that the matter can be resolved quickly so we can get on and deliver this exciting project.”

While Bombardier has not confirmed the reasoning behind its challenge, it is understood that the company’s action alleges irregularities in the procurement process, particularly around the risk assessments undertaken as part of the bids.

Merseytravel had put the contract out to tender in October 2015 as the executive body responsible for co-ordinating public transport in the Liverpool city-region.

In addition to building the new trains, currently Stadler will also be responsible for performing infrastructure upgrades to power supplies, platforms and track, refurbishing two main Merseyrail depots and the ongoing maintenance of the fleet under the terms of the contract.

Bombardier was contacted for comment but had not yet responded at the time of publication.

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Jimbo   30/01/2017 at 22:59

I have never understood this kind of action. In what way does taking your potential customer to court increase their goodwill towards you ? Do you think that trying to force them to use your products is a good way to start a productive relationship ?

Andrew Gwilt   30/01/2017 at 23:15

CAF have made a bid to build the new trains for Merseyrail to replace the Class 507 and Class 508 which CAF have won and are planning to build the new trains.

Andrew Gwilt   31/01/2017 at 00:24

Sorry Stadler not CAF. Stadler to build the new trains for Merseyrail.

Thomson   31/01/2017 at 11:41

Why didn't Bombardier offer a better bid and build better trains in the first place? Instead of getting upset by other's logical decision?

Mark Hare   31/01/2017 at 11:44

Yes Andrew. I already read that in the article, thanks.

Jbzoom   31/01/2017 at 12:34

The point is not whether the Stadler or Bombardier trains were better. It is whether Merseyrail properly followed public procurement rules in judging that Stadler had made the better bid. A company like Bombardier does not normally take a procurement issue to court unless the buyer's mistakes are egregious. The last significant successful UK Court challenge on a Railway contract was when Virgin sued the DfT over their egregiously flawed attempt to give the WCML franchise to First Group. A major issue in the Merseyrail tender is likely to be whether the risk of going with a new design from a largely untried supplier in the UK market was properly taken into account by Merseyrail in assessing the bids. Clearly, Merseyrail has failed to satisfy Bombardier that it did.

Jono   31/01/2017 at 12:36

Although it seems like being a bad loser, I'm glad Bombardier have issued a challenge against the award to Stadler. We have two UK train builders (or assemblers) now with CAF considering opening a small plant so surely we should try and keep them in business! Especially if we want to be self sufficient outside the European market.

Jak Jaye   31/01/2017 at 12:52

To parapharse 'The Donald' Buy British,Hire British!

Robert Lee   31/01/2017 at 14:03

A minor point I'm sure, Merseyrail are the operator, the procurement process and therefore the challenge sits with Merseytravel...just saying

Roger Capel   31/01/2017 at 15:09

Bombardier seem to be making a habit of this. They've also launched a court challenge to the Flemish Regional Goverment's order for the next generation of trams for "de Lijn" from CAF instead of Bombardier in Brugge. Is this "the coming thing"?

Jon   31/01/2017 at 19:25

It basically boils down to the current guard dispute mearsey rail are forcing the hand of this dispute by ordering units without guard control, bombardier have a case for there units can come fitted Stadler were basically ready to leave this out.

Jerry Alderson   31/01/2017 at 22:25

Not sure what Jon is saying, but I do note that trains intended to only ever run as DCO sometimes have controls for a conductor to control doors - Class 700 is a case in point. All three bidders for the trains proposed to MerseyTravel a DCO solution. Interesting clarification from ORR in the current edition of RAIL magazine: ORR says that it did not say that DCO was the *only* solution to prevent a repeat of the St James Street fatality - i.e. there might be other ways of preventing a repeat. Whether the bidders failed to spot that subtlety or chose to ignore it is unclear.

Jimbo   31/01/2017 at 22:51

@jbzoom - I do actually understand the reasons, but I don't see what Bombardier think they get out of this. If they win the case, they have just forced Merseytravel to waste part of their precious budget on the legal case and on having to re-tender. This means they have less to spend on new trains which take longer to arrive. What kind of organisation would then turn around and give the new bid to Bombardier ? If you live in Merseyside, why would you accept your transport body giving the bid to a company that wasted your money in this way. And don't get me started on "public procurement rules" - in trying to be "fair", they just waste huge amounts of taxpayers money.

Pdeaves   01/02/2017 at 10:34

Jimbo, you are correct (referring to your first comment). Most contracts are let on the basis that, effectively, the final decision rests with the customer; they don't have to accept the lowest bid or any other particular criteria. I would be very surprised if that wasn't a condition in this case, so I don't get what Bombardier wants to achieve.

John Burns   02/02/2017 at 19:02

The Tories are having HS2 by-pass Liverpool, which will economically harm the large city. Not one nut & bolt of HS2 will be within 20 miles of Liverpool. The Liverpool City Region is approximately 2.2 million people. The city should not be in the business of propping up a government by giving employment building trains, while the same government harms the city. The city should, and did, go for the best deal for the city in procuring rolling stock for its metro. The Swiss show no malice towards the city, unlike other parts of the UK. Read some of the comments in the Derby Telegraph over the past few years about "Scousers". Indeed Carl Jung, a Swiss, said, "Liverpool is the pool of life". This is a metro that had one third cancelled with men ordered off site 40 years ago. Tunnels and trackbeds still await tracks and trains with HMG/DfT making no moves to finish the job. Indeed, the mayor of Liverpool said he would build a station in a disused tunnel as a ploy to get HMG/DfT to run lines to it. It is that bad. Not only that, Liverpool's Central station is one of the busiest underground stations in the UK per platform length, is dangerously overcrowded needing expanding with more platforms added and a larger concourse. Yet again, HMG/DfT don't want to know. The city owes nothing to anyone.

Chris   12/02/2017 at 21:46

@John Burns Why turn this into a party political debate. Especially given that HS2 was started by a Labour Government and Liverpool was never included. I live in Suffolk and basically all the main lines bypass us but we accept we are 'on the edges' of our country. Its Geography nothing more. And if you want to see old stock come to Ipswich. Of course the Swiss showed no malice John they were after your money. I suspect given the success of Bombardier to date they are pretty friendly towards everyone as well.

J, Leicester   13/02/2017 at 12:13

You can always trust a Liverpudlian to make everything about the "evil Tories." The warped logic behind actively wanting a UK-based manufacturer with no ties to the government to miss out on a major contract to spite Westminster is rather silly.

Keith   14/02/2017 at 11:50

Part of the tender was for other upgrades did Bombardier ignore this? As a Canadian company they can be a bit strange with their products, I remember the Bombardier signalling system that was fitted at Horsham & then removed at the cost of millions

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