Published: 17th February 2014
Europe’s largest construction project, Crossrail, has just passed the half-way stage in construction terms and the next milestone is the procurement of the new trains to run along the line. Transport for London (TfL) and The Department for Transport (DfT) have announced that the trains will be provided by the Canadian company, Bombardier whose UK train building facility at Derby dates back to Victorian times.
The contract includes provision of the trains plus the construction of a new depot at Old Oak Common plus a 32 year maintenance contract which has tough availability levels to meet for the fleet of 65 trains. The new depot in west London at Old Oak Common will employ an estimated 244 jobs plus 16 apprenticeships and once operational will employ 80 more jobs.
Dr. Francis Paonessa, Managing Director, Bombardier Transportation UK, said: “We are absolutely delighted to have been recommended as the winning bidder for the Crossrail rolling stock and depot contract and look forward to closing the contract with the customer.
This is a resounding endorsement of our proposed BOMBARDIER AVENTRA train for Crossrail, which has proudly been designed and developed in the UK as an iconic and world-technology leading train for London. We are the world leader in rail transportation.
Today’s decision is a credit to the efforts of our entire workforce in the UK, including our 1,600 strong Derby-based design, engineering and manufacturing team who form a global centre of excellence for the rail industry, as well as our outstanding maintenance teams who support train operators right across the country and particularly in London as demonstrated during the London 2012 Olympics.”
Business Secretary Vince Cable said the decision gave the Midlands a "great boost" and represented a "real vote of confidence in British manufacturing". "The government has been working hard with industry to support the UK rail supply chain to maximise growth opportunities through contracts like this."
Labour MP for Derby South, Margaret Beckett, said after Thameslink, Bombadier's workers were "very much put on their mettle". Everybody was devastated by the Thameslink decision, but they have really got stuck in and proved that they are the right people to have this contract, which I have no doubt they are."
Mr Cable’s brief statement hides the fact that Siemens pulled out of the competition having a full order book and they said that they were not sure they could manage another large contract in the timescales. Hitachi are fully stretched building the Inter City Express Trains in a multi-billion pound deal so this in reality, only left Bombardier as a serious contender for the Crossrail contract.
The political furore that followed the larger Thameslink contract going to Siemens in 2011 with the risk that Bombardier Works at Derby was under threat as a result brought politics into play. The labour Government awarded the IEP contract to Hitachi but stipulated that the trains were built in the UK, but the next Government awarded the Siemens Thameslink contract but allowed the trains to be built in Germany. The other bidders were the Spanish manufacturer, CAF who have yet to make a breakthrough into the UK train supply market and Alstom who withdrew after having a disastrous venture into the UK train supply industry.
Mainland European countries have a record of awarding their train contracts to manufacturers based in their country despite EU procurement rules and following these other countries’ strategy may have been followed with the Crossrail order with a looser interpretation of the guidelines.
Much has rightly been made of establishing Apprentice Schools and the effect on the local economy via local supply chain management and these factors are thought to have played their part in the contract award.
The DfT estimate that this contract would support 760 manufacturing jobs and 80 apprenticeships and in addition, up to 340 new jobs will be created with an estimated 74% of the amount spent on the contract would be within the UK. The European Investment Bank has offered a £500 million loan to TfL to help finance the trains.
Each of the 65 trains, designated as a Class 345, will be 200 metres long and their nine car formation will be able to carry 1500 passengers and as with the Derby built tube stock feature walk-through carriages and provide real-time travel information. There is an option for another 18 trains if required.
The trains will start running in May 2017 between Liverpool Street to Shenfield and then a year later they will run the Heathrow Connect trains from Paddington to Heathrow. The gradual introduction spreads in December 2018 between Paddington and Abbey Wood through central London before the full service starts a year later from Maidenhead.
The contract award was celebrated at the Derby Rail Forum’s 21st anniversary celebration at the House of Commons and hosted by Milton Keynes MP, Iain Stewart who is the Principle Private Secretary to the Transport Secretary Patrick McCloughlin.
There was some irony as Mr Stewart had to deliver his bosses speech extoling the virtues of Derby and its 175th anniversary when his local Railway Works celebrated its 175th anniversary in 2013. The battle for the Apprentice School is on between Derby and Wolverton, a rivalry that goes back 150 years ago!
But whatever the rivalry, train manufacturing remains in Derby but it was a close call as the end of the 1395 Underground Sub-surface line train carriage building contracts are in sight next year.