Posted 21st June 2013 | 9 Comments

Thameslink rolling stock delay 'cost £8m'

Thameslink Class 319 unit

Most of the present fleet on the Thameslink route is 25 years old

THE DELAY in completing the £1.6 billion Thameslink rolling stock contract with Siemens has cost taxpayers at least £8 million, according to a Parliamentary answer. This disclosed that one legal firm alone was paid more than £5 million. The RMT union said the costs were a 'national disgrace'.

The figures were confirmed in an answer to Derby MP Chris Williamson. He has been campaigning in favour of runners-up Bombardier, who run the last British train-building plant in the city.

Transport minister Simon Burns said the expenditure had been incurred since October 2011 – which was four months after Siemens had been named as preferred bidder. Up to September 2011 the DfT had already spent £20 million.

The German company has now been confirmed as the winner, although the contract cannot be signed until a ten-day 'standstill' period comes to an end next week.

RMT general secretary Bob Crow promised that his union would continue to fight for British train builders.

He said: "The scandal of the Thameslink stitch up continues with the Government now forced to admit that their betrayal of UK train building has been financed by the British taxpayer to the tune of £8 million in largesse to the architects of this debacle. That is a national disgrace and those responsible should be hauled to account. There must be no repeat over the Crossrail fleet contract."

Reader Comments:

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

  • Mark, London

    Matt Sawyer, why do you seem to have such a bee in your bonnet regarding the RMT, the most succesful and largest trade union across the transport system in the UK today? Plenty of train drivers are in the RMT, just as plenty are in ASLEF. In trade unionism untity however is strength, and what counts is strength in numbers, which is where the RMT wins hands down in relation to the other union. And Lutz, if the rail industry were fully privatised the fares would be even higher than their current exorbitant levels, the network would shrink as non profitable routes closed, and maintenance of track and trains would be compromised to dangerous levels, just as we saw in Railtrack's woeful days.

  • Lutz, London

    If the rail industry was fully privatised, there would not be the opportunity to turn procurement into a political football, and for waste on the scale of this alleged loss.

  • Matt Sawyer, London

    Bob Crow heads the RMT and hardly any of his members drive trains. And the largest chunk of those who do are currently driving British built underground trains. The train driver's union is called ASLEF and has NOTHING to do with the RMT.

  • Norm, Holyface

    That's not the issue, the fact is the way the tender process was organised, Bombardier would never have been able to win the tender.

    The Labour govermrnt who set the specification, conspired against British manufacturing.

  • claydon william, Norwich Norfolk

    If Bob Crow and his big mouth really cared that much about the future of train building in Britain, he could ballot his members to only drive British built trains

    See how far he gets......

    OBTW, this is a guy who's union drives him around in a car made in errrrr.... Germany. (They could have course run a fleet of Toyotas made in Derby !!!)

  • David Faircloth, Derby

    Roger from Paisley needs to read the tender evaluation criteria comprised within the invitation to tender, and also the Transport Select Committee's report into the procurement of the Thameslink trains.

    This is nothing about procuring the best trains; this is a total train service provision deal for a period of thirty years, and the superior credit rating that Siemens has over Bombardier gave it an advantage of some £500m when determining which tender had the best net present value. This is what determined who would win the contract.

    We don't know which were the best trains; the Bombardier proposal could have been found to be the best thing since sliced bread and Siemens could just have scraped through stages 1 - 3 of the tender evaluation process. And it could also be that the capital cost of the Bombardier trains are less than those from Siemens, they may be cheaper to maintain, use less energy and be lighter (resulting in lower access charges), but Siemens would still have won this tendering exercise; quite simply, there is just no way that an advantage of this magnitude could be overcome.

    It's no wonder Vince Cable acknowledged that the end result was inevitable.

    Quite simply, we just don't know if the best trains have been purchased; but we do know that - by taking this procurement exercise forward as a PFI - the DfT hasn't spent money wisely and in the interest of the British taxpayer. Moreover, our children, grandchildren, and in some instances our great-grandchildren will be paying our more than need be the case.

    That's the reality of Thameslink (and the IEP project as well).

  • Melvyn Windebank, Canvey Island, Essex

    Roger, Paisley the delay iis nothing to do with boo hoo brigade and everything to do with Siemens not coming up with then money when awarded the contract.

    It's time we introduced a times limit to finalise these awards and if the preferred bidder can't meet deadline then the 2nd preference would be awarded the contract providing they met a timed agreement.

    If both fail then they would be EXCLUDED from bidding again if contract had to restart from beginning !

    Siemens is also a bank and it ways said at the time this gave them an unfair advantage over normal company bidders.

  • Ryan Goff , Beeston

    @Roger, Siemens won because the contract required the manufacturer to borrow the capital and lease the trains. Siemens is a larger company therefore has better credit rating and can borrow capital at lower interest rates.
    So the tender skewed the competition in favour of the largest company. The government has already said it will not use this tendering model again. Crossrail train building will be underwritten by the Govt, removing credit rating & interest rates variations from the competition.
    Both companies could have delivered products which met the spec. Actually Siemens are having a lot of problems with new ICEs at the moment, stock for DB & E* for London - Europe routes are delayed by several years.

  • Roger, Paisley, UK

    Hold on a minute! Wasn't it the unions calling for the Siemens decision to be reviewed? As far as I can see Siemens won the contract fair and square in 2011. It's a shame the trains built in Britain are not as good as the German one's but wouldn't it be even more scandalous if the government had purchased inferior British trains, only for them to be unreliable and cost millions of pounds to repair.

    The government has spent the money in the interest of the British taxpayer by purchasing the best trains available. If it wasn't for the boo hoo brigade the taxpayer would be £8m better off.