Siemens desiro city thameslink train. Image courtesy of Siemens

New trains, new trains and yet more new trains announced

Published 22nd July 2013

Siemens, Hitachi and Bombardier awarded train building contracts

The Department for Transport (DfT) has announced that three new train contracts have been signed, each with a different train manufacturer.

The preferred bidder for the new Thameslink trains is German manufacturer Siemens in conjunction with Cross London Trains (XLT). This is the consortium that will finance the contract and comprises of Siemens Project Ventures GmbH, lnnisfree Limited and 3i Infrastructure plc.

So the DfT’s Thameslink Rolling Stock Procurement Programme moves nearer to becoming a reality despite it being well behind schedule. It had slipped by over a year and the rail industry was facing the prospect of the Thameslink route upgrade project being ready before the trains were available. This is pretty much confirmed by the Bombardier train order also just announced.

The DfT have decided on the contract outcome by comparing tenders from manufacturers against what they call a strict evaluation criteria looking at deliverability, affordability and value for money. The deal will supply around 1200 carriages and provide for their maintenance at two new depots to be built as part of the multi-billion pound deal.

They said:

Steve Scrimshaw, managing director for Siemens’ rolling stock business in the UK, said: “We are delighted to have been selected as preferred bidder for the Thameslink Rolling Stock Procurement Programme and we look forward to working with the Department for Transport to bring the programme to successful fruition. Siemens has participated in a rigorous tender process for over two years. Our selection as preferred bidder is a significant achievement not only for the rolling stock teams both in the UK and Germany but for Siemens overall. The announcement today is a credit to the hard work and dedication of those involved.”

Siemens has developed a reputation for reliability in the UK and their new trains are reliable with low casualty rates. They have used their UK experience to develop their new commuter train called the ‘Desiro City Train’ and suggest that up to 2000 UK jobs will be created following the order.

The trains will be built in Germany but train components will be made at their manufacturing facilty in Hebburn, South Tyneside while the other jobs will be created building and operating the two new depots. This is the largest commuter train order won by Siemens and the deal is worth literally billions of pounds contract which also marks the first order for their ‘Desiro City’ product.

Siemens provides and maintains passenger trains for First TransPennine Express, South West Trains, Heathrow Express, National Express East Anglia, Northern Trains, London Midland and ScotRail.

Thameslink but not Crossrail

Siemens has confirmed that it has withdrawn from the Crossrail train tender as it has the Thameslink project to deliver. Their German train building facility at Krefeld will be running at capacity and as a senior Siemens executive told, there is no point in opening another factory to run it at half capacity and that it was a strategic decision.

Having won many other orders, to chase another huge order could stretch them in delivering their existing customer commitments. Siemens will however deliver the signalling and communications control systems for the Crossrail project.

Bombardier win follow-on train order

Bombardier has won a follow-on order for 116 new carriages from the DfT on behalf of Southern who acted as the DfT’s procurement company. They currently operate a large fleet of similar Bombardier-built trains and the contract in reality was never really going to be awarded to anyone else.

Why? Having more of the same fleet is always a prudent operational strategy as new staff training and new depot facilities are not required and there is no acceptance risk associated with a type of train that has had its initial snags ironed out.

The contract is worth around £180 million and the trains will initially be used on Thameslink services which will enable another round of vehicle cascading to take place once the new Siemens trains are operating. This means that the older British Railways built Class 319 trains will be sent to newly electrified railway routes while the Bombardier trains will take their place.

These will then be similarly cascaded once the Siemens Thameslink trains come on-stream. The deal includes an option for another 140 carriages bringing the potential contract to a value of £385 million.

They said:

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.”

The Secretary of State for Transport, Patrick McLoughlin said: “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 onto the network”.

Hitachi wins further Express train order

The DfT has confirmed that Hitachi Europe has been awarded another contract to build more of its Intercity Express Train at their headquarters in the northeast at Heighington near Newton Aycliffe in County Durham.

The latest order for the Class 800 trains is worth an estimated £1.2 billion and will provide 30 new electric trains for use on the East Coast Main Line (ECML). Each train will have nine carriages and these will replace the British Railways built class 91 and Mark 4 carriages from 2018 onwards. This project is based on the 140mph ‘Javelin’ trains run by Southeastern from the Kent coast to St. Pancras via High Speed 1.

Hitachi set up its factory in the northeast with an eye to gaining access to the European train supply market and they say that this latest contract “will reinforce UK train manufacturing capability once again making it globally competitive and raising the prospect of the UK being able to compete for export orders in European markets”.

They said:

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “By signing this deal we have provided further proof of our determination to transform Britain’s railways into a world-class operation through continued investment and state-of-the-art technology.

“This new order for class 800 series trains is part of the government’s commitment to invest in our nation’s infrastructure. This will not only deliver significant benefits to passengers by further slashing journey times and bolstering capacity, but will also stimulate economic growth through improved connectivity between some of Britain’s biggest cities.”

Executive chairman and chief executive of Hitachi Rail Europe Alistair Dormer said: “This follow-on order by the Department for Transport marks the successful conclusion of the Intercity Express Programme procurement process. It represents a welcome boost for Hitachi Rail Europe’s train factory in County Durham with its 730 future employees and for the British supply chain.

“When we designed the new trains, we knew passengers and industry were very satisfied with our Class 395 Javelin train which we used as a blueprint and put a lot of thought into how we could step up to challenge of making the Class 800 trains as comfortable as possible for the long-distance passengers travelling on them.”

Hitachi’s initial test trains will be made in Japan and are scheduled to arrive next year for testing and going through the stringent acceptance program. They will be initially used on the Great Western Main Line from December 2017 and delivery completed for the UK three years later and they will be maintained in depots in Doncaster, Bristol, Swansea and London.

Written by Phil Marsh

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