Latest Rail News

01.06.12

Still no Thameslink trains deal – but IEP financing ‘close’

MPs and unions have attacked “ineptitude” at the DfT for the delays in getting a final Thameslink rolling stock contract signed with Siemens, nearly a year after it was picked as preferred bidder.

After a Parliamentary written answer by rail minister Theresa Villiers on May 17 revealed that “core project agreements” have still not been concluded, and finance is not yet in place, Derby North MP Chris Williamson has called again for Bombardier as reserve bidder to be brought “back into the fray”.

The Labour MP told the Derby Telegraph: “The Department for Transport is in a complete mess. It is losing control of Thameslink and someone needs to get a grip of the situation.”

He said he had previously been told by Villiers that the deal would be signed by the end of last year, following the ‘preferred bidder’ announcement in June.

The RMT union says the Eurozone financial crisis is behind the delays, saying that Villiers’ statement is a “clear admission that the deal has hit the buffers and that Siemens have no cash in place to build the Thameslink trains in a direct contradiction of everything we were told when the contract was awarded last June”.

RMT general secretary Bob Crow added: “This latest twist in the botched handling of the Thameslink contract nails once and for all the Government lie that it is too late to award of the work to Bombardier inDerbywhich is geared up and ready to go. It is Government ineptitude that has left thousands of jobs dangling by a thread and the whole future of train building in theUKon the critical list.”

This was shadow transport secretary Maria Eagle’s Parliamentary question: “To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the reasons are for the time taken to finalise the Thameslink rolling stock contract; and when she expects the contract to be finalised.”

Villiers replied: “The Department expects to conclude the core project agreements with Siemens and Cross London Trains shortly, following which Cross London Trains and their lending banks then need to conclude the financing documentation required to secure the necessary equity and debt funding for the project.”

A DfT source told the Daily Mirror: “We remain confident that the preferred bidder will be able to raise the required finance.”

Delays are also hampering the sign-off of the IEP rolling stock deal with Hitachi-led consortium Agility Trains. Its chief executive Alistair Dormer told the Financial Times this week that it has secured a finance deal with lenders and is “close to financial close”.

He said this funding was for the first tranche of 330 carriages for the GWML, and that it would take another year to find the money for another 270 for the ECML.

Tell us what you think – have your say below, or email us directly at opinion@railtechnologymagazine.com

Comments

Mike H   01/06/2012 at 14:19

These trains should be built in Derby its a farce . Why are we not buying British ?

Richard C   01/06/2012 at 23:20

Lets be honest here, if Bombardier were awarded the contract today it would take at least 12 months for them to raise the finance. Also don't forget Bombardier are Canadian owned, not British, and Siemens have a very well developed UK supply chain that is waiting to benefit from the Thameslink deal!

Andrew P   22/06/2012 at 21:50

What is wrong with more Mk3 carriages with retention toilets and automatic doors + electric or diesel locomotives? IEP isn't built to go faster than 125 mph, and locos + carriages are cheaper than EMU's. Buy a successful British design, if necessary with foreign locos.

Mikeb   20/07/2012 at 17:45

It is planned to cascade a number of Thameslink Class 319s to Northern for the Lancashire electrification project. However it now looking as if this project will be long finished before any EMUs are available and therefore, Class 156s, 150s and Pacers will be running under the wires for some time to come. Perhaps an additional order Class 350s for Northern should now be considered.

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