Posted 18th July 2013 | 5 Comments

More new trains to bridge Thameslink cascade gap

Electrostar unit under construction at Derby

Bombardier in Derby has been building trains for Southern and its predecessors for more than a decade. This picture dates from 2002

SOUTHERN, acting on behalf of the Department for Transport, has chosen Bombardier to supply 116 more electric multiple unit vehicles at a cost of around £180 million, so that some existing Thameslink trains can be cascaded to newly-electrified lines in the next year or two.

The DfT no longer has the option to delay cascades from Thameslink until new trains from Siemens can be delivered to the route, because of a two-year delay between the confirmation of Siemens as preferred Thameslink rolling stock bidder in 2011 and final close on the deal in June this year. The trains now being ordered from Southern will also be cascaded when they can eventually be replaced by the new Desiro City units from Siemens.

The latest order includes an option for another 140 vehicles, which may be exercised 'in the event that further investment opportunities are identified', according to Southern. If so, the new potential total order value would increase to £385 million.

A spokesman for Southern told Railnews that some of the details have still to be confirmed, but the new trains are likely to be a 'variant' of the well-established Electrostar series.

The purchase of more trains was revealed in principle last November, following previous orders for 170 Electrostar vehicles for Southern which are now under construction at Derby. These, too, are intended to bridge the potential gap between old and new on Thameslink.

Southern said it intended to sign the contract with Bombardier at the end of the ‘Alcatel' or cooling-off period of 10 days, which began on 18 July.

Southern managing director Chris Burchell said: “We have worked extremely hard to be an effective delivery partner to the Department and we are very pleased to have reached this important milestone in the procurement of new rolling stock. This will provide essential capacity to allow our industry to grow.”

Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin added: “Increasing the number of trains on the network not only benefits passengers but everyone, as the railways are an important engine for economic growth in our country.

“The Government has worked closely with Southern to enable this critical stage of the project to be reached and I look forward to these trains being delivered.”

Although Southern is being used by the DfT to manage the procurements, the operator will have ceased to exist before the results of this latest order are likely to be delivered, because Southern is due to be merged with the next Thameslink franchise in July 2015.

Reader Comments:

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

  • MikeB, Liverpool

    Graham, Basingstoke. As it is unlikely that refurbished Class 319s will be available for a few years, rumour has it that surplus Class 317s are already earmarked for transfer to Northern. Apparently, these will be used on the Manchester - Liverpool and the Liverpool - Wigan/Preston services from December 2014.

  • Graham, Basingstoke

    If any MP was asked about why southern were getting new trains whilst northern cities were not, their answer would be something along the lines of:

    "SOUTHERN, acting on behalf of the Department for Transport, has chosen Bombardier to supply 116 more electric multiple unit vehicles at a cost of around £180 million, so that some existing Thameslink trains can be cascaded to newly-electrified lines in the next year or two. Which, given no decision has been about exactly where this would be, could include additional trains for cities such as Manchester.

    "Also, given that these additional 116 electric multiple unit vehicles are only designed to be used to provide capacity until the full Thameslink rolling-stock order has been delivered, there could well be extra vehicles which could be cascaded to cater for any additional gaps in existing rolling stock requirements elsewhere on the network."

  • Prestwick, Tonbridge

    So basically, all this whinging about Bombardier losing the Thameslink order and how Derby was going to collapse a-la Detroit, etc, etc was all a load of rubbish really, wasn't it?

    280 new carriages plus the increasingly likely possibility of a 500+ being ordered for Crossrail now Seimens has pulled out of the bidding (Hitachi, tied up with IEP, won't be a serious contender) means the future of the Derby factory is assured.

    Crisis? What crisis?!?!?!

  • Terry Piper, Altrincham

    I find it annoying that they are ordering new trains as a stop gap when in big urban centers like Leeds and Manchester the majority of services are on old trains that are not fit for purpose. Some of the main bus routes have WiFi and brand new buses whilst train passengers on many routes have to gamble each day on what they get, on our local line I think the poor quality of trains and service is actually holding back demand. The north deserves better, moderns trains which would boost both useage and the economy.

  • Melvyn Windebank, Canvey Island, Essex

    Must be co-incidence that this announcement is made the day parliament held the last PMQS of this session with parliament breaking up for the summer.

    It's surprising how this system of using Southern to purchase trains has not attracted more critism from Northern MPs given the lack of trains in that part of the country.

    It also raises questions as to what ROSCOS are for given the way that unlike private bus companies they have failed to set up a system of ordering new trains each year like bus companies order new buses !