SIEMENS has won a contract worth some £1.5 billion to build the new Thameslink fleet, after fending off competitor Bombardier to be named as preferred bidder. Siemens said the project would create up to 2,000 jobs in the supply chain.
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 will become available to improve rail services in the North West of England, the Thames Valley and other areas yet to be confirmed.
There had been high hopes that the contract, involving up to 1,200 new vehicles, would be awarded to Bombardier. But the decision to choose a preferred bidder had been deferred several times by the Department for Transport, with the two shortlisted contenders making their best and final bids in January this year.
Siemens managing director for rolling stock in the UK, Steve Scrimshaw, said he was delighted. He added: "Our selection is a significant achievement, not only for the rolling stock teams both in the UK and Germany but for Siemens overall."
The fleet will be the first production run of Siemens' new Desiro City units which have been developed for the British market.
Siemens is in partnership with Cross London Trains, a consortium of Siemens Project Ventures, Innisfree and 3i Infrastructure. The next major rolling stock contract in Britain will be for the Crossrail fleet, and some industry observers have already suggested that the winner of the Thameslink contract is likely to be favourite to build the Crossrail trains.
The contract to build carriages for the Thameslink upgrade is the second major bid Bombardier has lost to overseas competition.
In 2009, the company also lost out on a contract to build a fleet of inter-city "super express" trains to Japan's Hitachi.It is a crucial time for Bombardier, which employs 3,000 people in Derby, as most current orders will soon be finished.