Rail passengers are set to benefit from less crowded and more frequent trains after Rail Minister Theresa Villiers today (16 June 2011) announced the next stage in a plan to build around 1,200 new rail carriages. The carriages will be used on the busy Thameslink route, allowing existing Thameslink carriages to be redeployed to relieve over-crowded rail routes across the country.
The £6 billion Thameslink upgrade - of which the new carriages are a crucial part - will almost double the peak-time capacity on Thameslink’s core central London section, allow longer trains to run and provide new fast and frequent London connections to towns and cities both north and south of the capital. The trains will also be lighter, more reliable and more energy efficient. The first new carriages will arrive in 2015.
Siemens Plc and XL Trains - a consortium comprising of Siemens Project Ventures GmbH, Innisfree Ltd and 3i Infrastructure Plc - have been appointed preferred bidder to build, own, finance and maintain the new trains. Siemens is already one of the leading suppliers of trains on British railways and employs around 16,000 people in the UK. The contract will create up to 2,000 new UK jobs. This includes work being created at Siemens’ factory in Hebburn, Tyne and Wear, as well as in the rail industry supply chain. It also includes jobs at two maintenance depots for the new trains which, subject to planning permission, will be built at Three Bridges near Crawley and at Hornsey in the London Borough of Haringey. The Thameslink infrastructure works will employ an additional 3,000 people at the height of construction.
Theresa Villiers said:
This is a major step forward for the long-awaited Thameslink Programme which will make life better for thousands of commuters. Today’s announcement is further proof of the government’s commitment to investing in Britain’s future. Despite the pressure on budgets resulting from the need to tackle the deficit, we remain fully committed to the Thameslink upgrade which will dramatically improve journeys for commuters and boost the economy.
The announcement of Siemens Plc and XL Trains 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.
The Thameslink Programme includes major improvements to central London stations such as Blackfriars, Farringdon and London Bridge. It will reduce crowding by almost doubling capacity on the central section of one Britain’s busiest railways. Passengers will also get the benefit of a new generation of electric commuter trains operating at metro-style frequency levels during the morning and evening peaks through the central section.
Notes to editors
The DfT has selected Siemens Plc and XL Trains - a consortium comprising of Siemens Project Ventures GmbH, Innisfree Ltd and 3i Infrastructure Plc - as the preferred bidder in the competition to provide the new trains and depots for the Thameslink Programme. Siemens’ UK Rolling Stock business already has more than 1,500 carriages with six mainline rail operators.
The department intends to retain the other bidder - VeloCity - a consortium comprising of Bombardier Transportation (Holdings) UK Ltd, RREEF Ltd, Serco Holdings Ltd, Amber Infrastructure Group Ltd and SMBC Leasing (UK) Ltd - as the reserve bidder in the event that contracts cannot be successfully finalised with Siemens Plc and XL Trains.
Subject to finalising the contract with Siemens Plc and XL Trains, up to 2,000 new jobs will be created in the UK. This includes up to 600 associated with the manufacturer of train components and up to 650 associated with the building of the two new Thameslink depots. It also includes up to 750 workers to maintain the trains and operate the depots, including jobs in the wider associated supply chain. The new depots are proposed to be located at Hornsey in the London Borough of Haringey and Three Bridges near Crawley and are currently subject to planning application processes.
The new Thameslink trains will start to operate early in 2015 alongside the existing rolling stock, with the full fleet in use from the end of 2018. The new trains will offer a step change in passenger experience, with greater passenger carrying capacity, improved passenger communication and easy access for passengers with specific mobility needs. The new trains will also be good for the environment as they will be more energy efficient and they will be better for the tracks because they will be lighter, meaning less wear and tear and less disruption caused by maintenance.
The Thameslink Programme will make travelling across London and the south east easier and quicker. It will reduce crowding on some of the busiest sections of London’s transport network and introduce a new generation of carriage electric commuter trains, carrying up to 1750 passengers. On completion in 2018, up to 24 trains per hour will operate through central London, reducing the need for interchange onto London Underground services. The capital cost for the new infrastructure and the new rolling stock is estimated at around £6 billion.
The first stage of the Thameslink Programme is already under construction. Building work is already well underway at Farringdon and Blackfriars stations, and platform extension work has been completed at many locations including Luton Airport Parkway and St Albans. This first stage will enable some longer 12 carriage trains to operate on the Bedford to Brighton route from December 2011. The platforms at Blackfriars station are being extended across the river to make it the first station to span the width of the Thames. Farringdon station is being significantly improved and will also provide a new interchange onto Crossrail once that scheme is completed.
The second stage involves the reconstruction of London Bridge station and its approaches and a new connection to the East Coast Main Line just to the north of St Pancras. This stage will facilitate operation of up to 24 trains per hour in both directions through the central London core section, as well as longer 12 carriage operation to a range of destinations to the north and south of London from December 2018.