RMT has warned that continuing delays over finalising contract to supply 1,200 carriages risk creating “a transport fiasco that outstrips West Coast Mainline shambles”

Tim Lezard

thameslinkThe RMT has warned that continuing delays over finalising a £1.4bn contract to supply 1,200 carriages for the strategic Thameslink service risk creating “a transport fiasco that outstrips even the West Coast Mainline shambles.”

Officials say the Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin had promised the contract would be signed off with winning bidder Siemens “by the end of March”.

But with no final agreement, the RMT says old diesel stock will have to continue to run on newly-electrified lines in the North West, while new train building in the UK is ‘left hanging by a thread’ and wider rolling stock supplies are held back by 3 years.

The £6bn upgrade to the Thameslink line, which runs from Bedfordshire, across London and towards Brighton and the Kent coast, is due to be completed in 2017.

The cost to the taxpayer of the disputed award of the West Coast mainline franchise last year has been put at £50m.

Unions have been campaigning for two years to try to ensure the separate £1bn contract to build new trains for the Crossrail network goes to Bombardier in Derby – the UK’s last remaining manufacturer. Critics say ministers should learn from the ‘farce’ of the Thameslink supply saga and immediately put the Crossrail trains contract to Bombardier through public procurement.

They are also calling for the Coalition to explain how much the final bill for the taxpayer will be of the ‘botched’ attempt to secure private sector financing for the contract.

RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: “As another bogus deadline crashes past, it’s time for the government to end two years of lies and call a halt to the Thameslink/Siemens fiasco which has left British train building on death row.

“This shameful scandal, bound up in the incompetence of this government, a complete disregard for British manufacturing jobs and the financial chaos in Europe, must not be allowed to drag on any further and the minister should have the guts to admit him and his predecessors have got it wrong two years down the line.”

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Tim Lezard

Campaigning journalist, editor of @Union_NewsUK, NUJ exec member; lover of cricket, football, cycling, theatre and dodgy punk bands

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