German company beats British rival to scoop £1.4bn Thameslink deal

AOL Travel

The government has chosen a German company over a British one to build new trains for the vital Thameslink rail route.

The decision not to award the £1.4billion contract to British company Bombardier Transportation, which operates in Derby, and choose a German rival instead, has caused bewilderment and anger among transport unions.

Transport minister Theresa Villiers announced that a consortium led by Germany's Siemens had beaten the firm to become preferred bidder for the multi-billion pound contract. The company is set to build and maintain 1,200 carriages for the cross-London upgrade.

Siemens said the move would create 2,000 jobs in Britain and will ease overcrowding on the Bedford to Brighton route by bringing in 1,750-passenger electric commuter trains from 2015.

But transport unions Unite and the RMT joined the TUC in calling the announcement 'a hammer blow for Derby and British manufacturing' while Bombardier said it was 'extremely disappointed' it had not been selected.

The company recently lost out on another British contract for inter-city trains to Hitachi of Japan.

Subject to the final contract being signed, the carriages will be built at Siemens' plant at Krefeld near Dusseldorf. The award to Siemens will mean 300 extra jobs at its factory in Hebburn, Tyne and Wear, and two new maintenance depots built at Three Bridges, near Crawley, and Hornsey, north London.

Mrs Villiers said the Siemens bid had been 'the better deal' and would provide passengers with 'modern, greener and more-reliable trains'.

But shadow transport secretary Maria Eagle said: 'The reality is that these trains will be manufactured abroad.'

The full fleet of new trains will be in use by 2018 when up to 24 trains an hour will operate on Thameslink services through central London, reducing the need for passengers to change on to London Underground.

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