As Parliamentary Session Ends, Government Kicks Thameslink Fleet Contract And Future Of UK Train Building Deeper Into Long Grass
WITH THE current Parliamentary session ending yesterday, rail union RMT warned that the Government has kicked the Thameslink fleet contract into the long-grass for yet another summer leaving thousands of skilled manufacturing jobs in the Midlands hanging in the balance. There is also speculation that the secretive tender documentation could contain a clause meaning that Siemens may default if the deal isn’t closed by the end of August.
Rumours are now rife in the rail industry that if German outfit Siemens, who were awarded preferred-bidder status on this deal at the expense of Bombardier in Derby in June 2011, fail to get their financial gearing in place by the end of August they will default on their bid. Only publication of their tender documentation and its terms would end that speculation.
Derby MP Chris Williamson, a member of the RMT Parliamentary Group, submitted the following questions in an effort to try and force ministers to come clean before the recess:
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether a time limit has been set between awarding of preferred bidder status and financial close for the Thameslink contract
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether Siemens will default on the Thameslink Rolling Stock contract if it does not sign commercial close by a certain date and if so what is that date.
As the session came to an end all that the Government could offer in response was another vague statement that they would deal with the matter “shortly.”
RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said:
“With the Parliamentary session coming to an end, the Government had a last chance to come clean and tell us just what is going on with the long-delayed Thameslink fleet contract which has left Bombardier in Derby, thousands of manufacturing jobs and the future of train-building in the nation that gave the railways to the world, hanging in the balance. Their stock response that they will deal with the matter “shortly” more than a year on just shows their complete and utter contempt for British manufacturing workers.
“Rumours are rife that the Siemens deal is in trouble and this is a scandalous and cack-handed way to run the railways. On Monday the Government promised a programme of rail investment but the continued botched handling of the Thameslink fleet procurement questions both their willingness and their ability to take decisive and speedy action regardless of the impact on skilled workers jobs.”