Thursday, 16 June 2011

So where is Philip Hammond today?

So where is the Secretary of State today?

Eye finds it a little surprising that Petrol-head should be missing on the day when his department announced that a £1.5bn order for new trains is to be awarded to a German manufacturing plant.

An announcement that will result in many thousands of British voters losing their jobs.

A decision that will result in the death of train manufacturing in Derby after 160 years.

An order paid for by the taxpayer that has little to offer either British business or UK PLC.

A contract award that might have been explained to the whole rail industry at Railtex, but was instead disclosed by a junior minister in a written answer and in calls to selected hacks.

Eye is sure that the decision was made for sound reasons, but is surprised that the Secretary of State didn't see fit to make it himself?

UPDATE: This from Flat Cap and Whippet...

Buried in a Whitehall website, under business rates at ports and waste, you would have surely noticed that Hammond was having a jolly in a landlocked European country.

Who cares about thousands of British jobs, when one has a comprehensive air transport agreement to start negotiating with Moldova.

Thameslink fleet announced

BBC reporting that Siemens has won the contract for the Thameslink fleet.

More to follow...

If true, brave of cowardly-custard Petrol-head to make the announcement the day after he visited Railtex...

UPDATE: And here the DfT press release...


Rail passengers are set to benefit from less crowded and more frequent trains after Rail Minister Theresa Villiers today announced the next stage in a plan to build around 1,200 new rail carriages. The carriages will be used on the busy Thameslink route, allowing existing Thameslink carriages to be redeployed to relieve over-crowded rail routes across the country.

The £6bn Thameslink upgrade - of which the new carriages are a crucial part - will almost double the peak-time capacity on Thameslink's core central London section, allow longer trains to run and provide new fast and frequent London connections to towns and cities both north and south of the capital. The trains will also be lighter, more reliable and more energy efficient. The first new carriages will arrive in 2015.

Siemens Plc and XL Trains – a consortium comprising of Siemens Project Ventures GmbH, Innisfree Ltd and 3i Infrastructure Plc - have been appointed preferred bidder to build, own, finance and maintain the new trains. Siemens is already one of the leading suppliers of trains on British railways and employs around 16,000 people in the UK. The contract will create up to 2,000 new UK jobs. This includes work being created at Siemens' factory in Hebburn, Tyne and Wear, as well as in the rail industry supply chain. It also includes jobs at two maintenance depots for the new trains which, subject to planning permission, will be built at Three Bridges near Crawley and at Hornsey in the London Borough of Haringey. The Thameslink infrastructure works will employ an additional 3,000 people at the height of construction.

Theresa Villiers said:

“This is a major step forward for the long-awaited Thameslink Programme which will make life better for thousands of commuters. Today’s announcement is further proof of the Government’s commitment to investing in Britain’s future. Despite the pressure on budgets resulting from the need to tackle the deficit, we remain fully committed to the Thameslink upgrade which will dramatically improve journeys for commuters and boost the economy.

“The announcement of Siemens Plc and XL Trains as preferred bidder for this contract represents the best value for money for taxpayers. It will create around 2,000 new jobs and will provide Thameslink passengers with modern, greener and more reliable trains.

"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 becomes available to improve rail services in the North West of England, the Thames Valley and other areas yet to be confirmed.

"The Thameslink Programme includes major improvements to central London stations such as Blackfriars, Farringdon and London Bridge. It will reduce crowding by almost doubling capacity on the central section of one Britain's busiest railways. Passengers will also get the benefit of a new generation of electric commuter trains operating at metro-style frequency levels during the morning and evening peaks through the central section."

- ENDS -

Railtex - day two

The Fact Compiler remains busy at Railtex.

And, with the whole industry, awaits todays announcement with interest...