Posted 7th September 2011 | 4 Comments

Demonstrators take Thameslink fight to Westminster

HUNDREDS of protestors are travelling from Derby to London today, to renew their call for the government to think again over the award of the £1.4 billion Thameslink rolling stock contract to Siemens rather than Bombardier, which would have built the 300 trains in Derby. A new survey has confirmed fears that thousands of jobs are now at risk.

The demonstrators have travelled by special train to London, and will be on hand when the transport select committee takes oral evidence today as part of its inquiry into rolling stock procurement.

Witnesses called include UK Bombardier chief Colin Walton, Siemens UK managing director Steve Scrimshaw, Railway Industry Association chief executive Jeremy Candfield and the transport secretary Philip Hammond.

He has defended the controversial decision to award the contract to Siemens, claiming that its bid offered best value for money, but it has emerged that the wider effects on the British economy of excluding Bombardier had not been taken into account, even though this would have been permissable under European procurement law.

A survey sponsored by the union Unite has revealed that of 125 firms questioned, almost half are planning to cut the size of their workforces if Siemens does build the Thameslink fleet.

Siemens has yet to sign the contract, and is currently preferred bidder, with completion due in November.

Apart from the scrutiny of the transport committee, the government may also face another hurdle next month, when a preliminary report into the decision is due from the National Audit Office.

If the NAO does report flaws in the procurement process, it will then move on to a full inquiry, which is expected to be published early in 2012.

In the event of a full NAO inquiry going ahead, whether the government could then realistically sign the Siemens contract in the meantime would remain to be seen.

Reader Comments:

Views expressed in submitted comments are that of the author, and not necessarily shared by Railnews.

  • Rob, Nottingham, UK

    Someone asked: "Why is German 'Siemens' bad and French Canadian 'Bombardier' good ?"

    Because Siemens will do almost all of the engineering, procurement, project mangement (white collar, graduate jobs) and most of the assembly and testing in Germany.

    Bombardier would have done quite a lot of that work in the UK. In Derby to be precise. So and some of the government's money would be returned to them via the tax system.

    Secondly, Derby have been making dual voltage EMUs for some years and the customers are actually quite pleased with them

  • Tony Pearce, Reading, UK

    Why is German 'Siemens' bad and French Canadian 'Bombardier' good ?

    The Government should be trying behind the scenes to get as much of the production of the train order to Siemens done in this country. That can be done and might need some re-branding of certain sites as 'Development' sites with less planning controls and a few legal subsidies.

    But the overall contract has gone to Siemens and there is no cancelling it.

  • Melvyn Windebank, Canvey Island< Essex, England

    The real question is why companies' credit ratings should affect the purchase of trains or is really about the way our railways were privatised while other countries still operate state owned railways?

    To make matters worse for Bombardier Boris has cancelled new trains for the Piccadilly Line and the Crossrail order has been delayed which only makes the situation even worse for Derby who are quickly runninbg out of trains to build as the S Stock is built and delivered.

  • Joel Kosminsky, London, Britain

    There is now no-one in government or opposition who 'understands' industry before the decisions, and are slow to learn but not retract after the decisions.