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DfT ‘considering alternatives’ to Siemens over Thameslink

Doubts have been raised over the controversial Thameslink rolling stock contract, with transport minister Simon Burns indicating that alternatives to Siemens were being considered in case financial close cannot be achieved.

Steve Scrimshaw, managing director of Siemens Rail, said today: “The Thameslink negotiations are ongoing and although we are disappointed that they have taken longer than anticipated, we are making good progress and we remain confident that we will achieve closure of this important deal.

“Our project team is in detailed negotiations with the Department for Transport and in daily contact with them and other key stakeholders. Depending on progress over the next month or so, we hope to achieve commercial close by Christmas with financial closure in the new year. We have been forging ahead with the manufacturing planning of our Desiro City train for Thameslink, the second generation commuter train based on the very successful Desiro UK train. We are already well advanced with our plans for the start of vehicle testing at our dedicated test track later this year.

“Having already invested well over 50 million Euros – at our own risk – in its development, I look forward to the Desiro City train taking pride of place on the UK rail network.”

Burns told Parliament on October 25 that the DfT hoped to close the deal in the new year, but responding to a parliamentary question from Chris Williamson, MP for Derby North, where reserve bidder Bombardier maintains its UK train manufacturing facility, he said: “I am aware of the consequences of failing to conclude the procurement and as you would expect, my department is closely monitoring progress, including assessing options were it not possible to secure financial close.”

Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin is being questioned about the contract by MPs today.

A DfT spokesperson said it was “normal” to assess contingency plans in case negotiations fail. “While for reasons of commercial confidentiality it is not appropriate to comment on the details of any contingency options, Bombardier have always been the reserve bidder.”

But Williamson said: “In spite of Patrick McLoughlin’s denials, it looks like the DfT is actively considering alternative options after all. This continual prevarication has got to stop. It's time for government ministers to put the national interest first and now award the Thameslink contract to Bombardier.”

RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: “The game is clearly up for the Siemens/Thameslink deal which is riddled with the same contamination and incompetence as the West Coast Main Line fiasco. The Government should now be forced to hand this work over to Bombardier in Derby saving thousands of key manufacturing jobs and calling a halt to this 18 months of shame.”

Tell us what you think – have your say below, or email us directly at [email protected]


Mikeyb   31/10/2012 at 19:54

This has been dragging on for far too long but who is going to lose-out if the Siemens bid comes to nothing? It won't be Thameslink, it will be Northern (or it's successor) who have been promised refurbished Class 319s for the Lancashire Triangle electrification. Phase 2 of this project is due to be energised in December 2014 but if the Thameslink order has to be re-tendered, the delivery dates for the new trains will undoubtedly go back a few years and the 319s will have to stay where they are. Hopefully the Government might see sense and agree to order brand new EMUs for the North West or else, Pacers and Sprinters will be running under the wires for many years to come.

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