Rail news

SIEMENS has won a contract worth some £1.5 billion to build the new Thameslink fleet, after fending off competitor Bombardier to be named as preferred bidder. Siemens said the project would create up to 2,000 jobs in the supply chain.

The Derby and Derbyshire Rail Forum is shrugging off the loss of the business to Derby-based Bombardier, saying that the Derby rail sector would ‘remain very much in business’. Bombardier itself has yet to comment.

Rail minister Theresa Villiers said: “The announcement of Siemens as preferred bidder for this contract represents the best value for money for taxpayers. It will create around 2,000 new jobs and will provide Thameslink passengers with modern, greener and more reliable trains.

“The new trains are a major part of the Government’s commitment to introduce an additional 2,100 carriages on to the rail network by 2019. Once the new trains are delivered, current Thameslink rolling stock becomes available to improve rail services in the North West of England, the Thames Valley and other areas yet to be confirmed.”

There had been high hopes that the contract, involving up to 1,200 new vehicles, would be awarded to Bombardier. But the decision to choose a preferred bidder had been deferred several times by the Department for Transport, with the two shortlisted contenders making their best and final bids in January this year.

Siemens managing director for rolling stock in the UK, Steve Scrimshaw, said he was delighted. He added: “Our selection is a significant achievement, not only for the rolling stock teams both in the UK and Germany but for Siemens overall.”

In a statement, the company added that the selection had been made on strict evaluation criteria, with focus on deliverability, affordability and value for money. Although some of the components are set to be made in Britain, the trains themselves will be built in Germany.

The fleet will be the first production run of Siemens’ new Desiro City units (model, pictured), which have been developed for the British market.

Siemens is in partnership with Cross London Trains, a consortium of Siemens Project Ventures, Innisfree and 3i Infrastructure. The name is not without significance: the next major rolling stock contract in Britain will be for the Crossrail fleet, and some industry observers have already suggested that the winner of the Thameslink contract is likely to be favourite to build the Crossrail trains in due course as well.