Bombardier holding talks over contract 'worth about £120m'
DERBY train-maker Bombardier could be set to land a multi-million-pound deal to provide more rolling stock for London.
Transport for London is considering increasing capacity on London Overground services because of a surge in passenger demand.
And it has been revealed that TfL has already held discussions about the extra trains with the Litchurch Lane firm, which built the Class 378 trains that currently operate on the Overground network.
It is understood that TfL is considering lengthening all 57 of its Class 378s by adding an additional carriage, to create five-carriage trains.
There may also be up to five additional trains, each five-carriages long.
In total, the work, the potential cost of which has not been disclosed, could see Bombardier make a total of 82 carriages.
Rail expert Sim Harris, managing editor of Rail News, said: "This could be good news for Derby. I would expect a decision to be made very soon.
"Although a cost has been disclosed, I believe this deal could be worth around £120 million to Bombardier."
A TfL finance and policy committee report, which will be discussed on Wednesday, shows that it has been in talks with Bombardier.
It states: "Discussions have taken place to procure additional rolling stock from Bombardier Transportation, the manufacturer, and QW Leasing."
The extra investment in new carriages is being proposed because Overground passenger figures are rising sharply and are set to go up by another 25% in a decade.
If the work gets the go-ahead, TfL would want the trains in time for its December 2014 timetable.
The TfL report states: "Extra capacity (longer and more frequent trains) has already been provided, as the level of growth is in line with forecasts but there is now severe overcrowding on some sections of the network at peak times.
"Demand is forecast to increase by a further 25% on the existing Overground network by 2021, based on population and employment projections in the London Plan. If left unaddressed, severe overcrowding is expected."
If the finance and policy committee gives the green light, the plans will then be passed to the main TfL Board for final approval.
The order would be a welcome boost to the firm after missing out on large government contracts, including the £1.4 billion Thameslink deal and £4.5 billion InterCity Express Programme.
The firm, which has vowed to stay in Derby until at least 2014, is now pinning its hopes on winning the £1 billion Crossrail contract.
But in the meantime, it has been working to keep its Litchurch Lane site busy – and as a result has won work from Southern Railway.
It is currently working on a £188 million order for Southern and was recently boosted by a decision by the rail operator to take up an option for further carriages, worth an additional £60 million.