Bombardier wins £188m trains order


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The Independent Online

UK manufacturing received a welcome year-end boost when Derby train-maker Bombardier won a £188 million order.

Amid controversy, Bombardier lost out to Siemens of Germany as preferred bidder for a £1.4 billion Thameslink train contract earlier this year.

The firm has been successful in a bid to supply 130 Electrostar train carriages to the Southern train company.

And there is also hope that Bombardier, which had to announce hundreds of job cuts after the Siemens decision, could win two more upcoming UK rail contracts.

Bombardier said it was delighted at the Southern deal, while Transport Secretary Justine Greening said the contract was good news for rail passengers and "brilliant news for Derby and Bombardier".

The Government is providing £80 million for the Southern deal from money made available following Chancellor George Osborne's Autumn Statement.

Southern runs services in south London, Surrey, Sussex and Kent. Bombardier will start producing the trains in the second half of 2012 and it is hoped they will be in service by December 2013.

Ms Greening said: "This deal for more than 100 new carriages is great news for rail passengers and brilliant news for Bombardier and Derby.

"It lands Bombardier with a crucial train order and I look forward to Bombardier workers in Derby being among the winners of this important deal.

"This deal, helped along by my department, shows my determination to invest in Britain's railways: our support for Southern will boost capacity while helping British jobs. I can't think of a better outcome."

The Siemens decision sparked a storm of protest, with the Government announcing it was looking again at the whole rail procurement process.

There was also criticism of the decision by the House of Commons Transport Committee which called for an independent review of the process.

Bombardier, which has its headquarters in Canada, also hopes to win a contract for new trains for the cross-London Crossrail project as well as the eVoyager contract which involves converting a fleet of existing diesel-powered Voyager trains operated by the CrossCountry train company so they can run on hybrid electric power.

Ms Greening announced before Christmas that she was instructing her officials to work closely with Bombardier and other parties involved so that technical and business case work could be completed as soon as possible and a firm decision could be made on the project.

Paul Roberts, president of Bombardier Transportation's Services UK division, said the company was "delighted" to win the competitive tender for the new trains.

He went on: "It is encouraging news from Ms Greening on her plans for the eVoyager project, where we hope a contractual agreement could be reached in the first quarter of 2012.

"In addition, early in the new year we look forward to having greater clarity on procurement for the Crossrail project and welcome the House of Commons Transport Committee's recommendations that future tenders separate train financing decisions from train design and manufacturing.

"These developments are therefore an encouraging step in the right direction and will be integral elements in considerations as part of Bombardier's UK review."

Bob Crow, general secretary of the RMT transport union, said: "The Southern carriages order is both welcome and deserved and shows that Bombardier in Derby is geared up to deliver top-quality engineering.

"However, the award of this contract does not let the Government off the hook on either the unsigned Thameslink contract or the looming (cross-London project) Crossrail deal. That's the work we need to secure the long-term future of train building in the UK."