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Rolling Stock Contracts

Volume 556: debated on Thursday 17 January 2013

4. What recent progress he has made on the Thameslink and Crossrail rolling stock contracts; and if he will make a statement. (137495)

We aim to reach financial close on the Thameslink rolling stock contract early this year. The Crossrail rolling stock procurement is a live procurement exercise being run by Crossrail Ltd. It is due to announce the de-selection to two bidders in spring this year, with contract award expected in spring 2014.

The Chancellor says it is essential to cut unnecessary public expenditure, but the review of the inter-city express programme by Sir Andrew Foster shows that the Thameslink rolling stock programme will cost hundreds of millions of pounds more than necessary. How can the Transport Secretary justify wasting British taxpayers’ money to create highly skilled manufacturing jobs in Germany when he could have re-run the procurement process in a matter of months, with a tender process that better ensured that this massive investment of taxpayers’ money led to manufacturing jobs in Britain? I am worried that the same thing is going to happen with—

Thank you, Mr Speaker. May I remind the hon. Gentleman that the procurement process that was adopted in this tender process was established by his Government, not this Government?

I welcome the Government’s recent announcement on new trains for the Southern railway franchise. Can the Minister confirm what this will mean for workers in Derbyshire?

I am extremely grateful to my hon. Friend. I pay tribute to her for the work she has done on behalf of her constituents and Bombardier. The announcement before Christmas is extremely good news for Bombardier. I also know that, like me, she will be pleased that Bombardier is among the suppliers who have bid for the new Crossrail rolling stock order. Southern Rail has commenced a competitive procurement process for 116 rolling stock vehicles, with an option for a further 140 at a later date. Train manufacturers, including Bombardier, are bidding for that as well.

Siemens was announced as the preferred bidder for Thameslink rolling stock in June 2011. The contract has still not been completed. One of the consequences is a delay in the cascading of rolling stock from Thameslink to the north. When will that cascading now take place?

I accept that there have been delays. A part of that is because this is a complex procurement process, and it obviously has to be done correctly and within the rules. In direct answer to the hon. Lady’s question, we expect the Thameslink contract to be finalised by the spring of this year, so that things can then move forward.