The Department for Transport is today (16 June 2011) announcing the identity of the preferred bidder for the new fleet of trains required for the Thameslink programme. This represents a significant milestone in the delivery of this crucial rail upgrade project.
The £6 billion Thameslink programme includes major improvements to central London stations such as Blackfriars, Farringdon and London Bridge and will generate significant benefits for passengers. It will make travelling across London and the south east faster, easier and more reliable and will reduce crowding on some of the busiest sections of London’s transport network. It will see the introduction of a new generation of electric commuter trains operating with metro-style frequency at up to 24 trains per hour through the central section during the morning and evening peaks.
This new fleet of trains comprises some 1,200 carriages. By the end of 2018, this will almost double the capacity of Thameslink’s core central London section in the peak periods. It is a major part of the government’s commitment to introduce an additional 2,100 carriages on to the rail network by 2019, as announced in November of last year. The new Thameslink fleet is expected to release existing carriages for use elsewhere on the network, particularly as further routes are electrified, for example in the north west of England and the Thames Valley commuter lines.
The competition to supply trains and maintenance services for the Thameslink programme was designed and launched under the previous administration in 2008, in accordance with EU procurement procedures. In October 2009 the previous government announced that the 2 remaining short-listed bidders were Siemens Plc with Cross London Trains (XLT) and Bombardier Transportation UK Ltd with VeloCity. Since then, a great deal of work has been undertaken by the department with both bidders to refine proposals and to secure best and final bids.
Following the completion of the process, I can announce today (16 June 2011) that the preferred bidder for the supply of the new Thameslink trains will be Siemens Plc with Cross London Trains (XLT) - a special purpose company comprising of Siemens Project Ventures GmbH, Innisfree Ltd and 3i Infrastructure Plc.
The Siemens-led venture will deliver the first new train on to the network by the start of 2015, with the order complete by the middle of 2017. The new trains will offer a step change in passenger experience, with greater passenger carrying capacity, improved passenger communication and easier access for passengers with specific mobility needs. They will also deliver high levels of reliability with the owner and manufacturer of the trains liable for financial penalties if the trains do not perform.
The choice of Siemens Plc with Cross London Trains (XLT) as preferred bidder represents the best value for money for taxpayers. Siemens is today (16 June 2011) confirming that this announcement will create up to 2,000 new jobs in their UK operations and across the UK supply chain in train component manufacturing, with a particular focus in the north east of England, and in the construction of the depots and subsequent maintenance of the new fleet of trains.
These jobs are additional to those created by the Thameslink infrastructure works which are currently underway. At the peak of construction activity - during the reconstruction of London Bridge Station from 2013 to 2018 - we expect around 3,000 people to be directly employed on the Thameslink infrastructure works as a whole, with as many again employed in related jobs in the wider community. Taking account of other investments in rail announced by this government, including Crossrail and the Inter City Express Programme, the total peak construction employment rises to around 17,000 people.
In order to maintain momentum on the Thameslink programme, it is important that discussions with Siemens Plc and Cross London Trains move forward quickly to enable financial close to occur as soon as practicable. That is, of course, subject to the government being satisfied that the proposal continues to offer value for money as the commercial discussions are concluded.
The alternative bidder, Bombardier Transportation UK Ltd with VeloCity - a special purpose company comprising Bombardier Transportation (Holdings) UK Ltd, RREEF Ltd, Serco Holdings Ltd, Amber Infrastructure Group Ltd and SMBC Leasing (UK) Ltd - also presented an attractive proposal and it is our intention to retain them as the reserve bidder.
This announcement of the preferred bidder for these new trains marks further progress in the delivery of the Thameslink programme, and reinforces the government’s commitment to upgrading the capacity, quality and reliability of our transport infrastructure and ensuring high value for money for the taxpayer in delivering major rail projects.