The award of a contract to manufacture trains for London’s Crossrail project will be put back by a year to 2014, it has been announced.
Crossrail will see 200m-long trains with a capacity of up to 1,500 passengers run from as far east as Shenfield in Essex and travel across the capital to as far west as Maidstone in Berkshire.
The Government was criticised for awarding the Thameslink contract to German company Siemens rather than British train maker Bombardier. However, the Government has now decided to look at EU procurement rules and the Crossrail company has put back awarding the contract until 2014 as a result.
“The Tory-led Government announced a one-year delay to Crossrail in the spending review to take £1bn out of the costs, so this is nothing but spin”
-Maria Eagle, shadow transport secretary
Commenting on Crossrail’s decision to delay the award of the contract, Colin Stanbridge, chief executive of the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said: “With so much of London’s transport network running at full capacity Crossrail is absolutely vital and £16bn worth of investment also represents a great opportunity for the capital’s businesses to go out and win new contracts.
“It also highlights the need for continued investment in London’s skill base so that the our engineering firms can outperform international competitors when it comes to the procurement process.”
Explaining the decision to put back awarding the contract by a year, Crossrail programme director Andy Mitchell said savings running into tens of millions could be realised for the taxpayer by introducing the rolling stock over a shorter period of time.
Mitchell said: “Continuing with the original procurement programme would have delivered the new train fleet earlier than was necessary.”
However, shadow transport secretary Maria Eagle said: “The Tory-led Government announced a one-year delay to Crossrail in the spending review to take £1bn out of the costs, so this is nothing but spin.
“The truth is that the delay to the project has nothing to do with improving procurement at all.
“If ministers are now saying it’s possible to review the Crossrail contract, they must explain why they have cost British jobs by refusing to do the same for the new Thameslink trains as Labour has repeatedly demanded.”
RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: “This is an admission by the Government that they got the Thameslink contract wrong and as well as learning lessons for the future they should now do the decent thing and award that work to Bombardier in Derby before it is too late.
“There is now no excuse for the destruction of train building in the UK and if the Government fail to reverse the Thameslink stitch-up before it is too late they will stand accused of playing politics with people’s livelihoods.”