With the second anniversary of the appointment in principle of Siemens of Germany to build the new Thameslink fleet - over Bombardier in Derby - just two days away, the Government announced last night that they are now close to signing off this betrayal of train building in the nation that gave the railways to the world, subject to a “cooling off” period.
The Thameslink fiasco dates back over five years to April 2008 when the procurement process began. The order was supposed to be signed in Summer 2009 with the vehicles in service on the cross London route by February 2012.
However, due to a toxic combination of ministerial incompetence and EU interference, the appointment in principle of Siemens was made on 16th June 2011. The government chose to ignore perfectly legitimate socio-economic factors that could have easily allowed the award to be made to Britain’s last train builder, Bombardier in Derby. As a result, 1400 manufacturing jobs were lost at a stroke with 10,000 more at the Derby plant and in the supply chain, left at risk.
After two years of broken deadlines and barefaced lies, the Dft claimed last night that they are close to financial close subject to a number of further caveats. RMT has made it clear today that despite this latest ministerial betrayal of British train building, the fight for Bombardier goes on with pressure now building over the award of the Crossrail deal.
The years of delays in the Thameslink/Siemens fit up have had another massive consequence. Fleet that was supposed to have been cascaded through the network has been delayed for years leaving the Government facing the embarrassing prospect of running diesel trains on newly-electrified routes in the North West.
RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said:
“With the second anniversary of the Thameslink carve up due on Sunday, RMT is not surprised that the Government were left scuttling about last night sneaking out an announcement that they may, yet again, be close to sign off on this betrayal of British train building.
“This shameful scandal, bound up in the incompetence of this government, a complete disregard for British manufacturing jobs and blatant interference from Europe, must not be allowed to be repeated and the minister should have the guts to admit that him and his predecessors have made a total mess of this deal and give an assurance that it will never happen again.
“The fight to save Bombardier in Derby, and train building in the nation that gave the railways to the world, goes on.”