Extra orders for trains factory Bombardier on way as Thameslink debate looms
A RAIL operator has announced plans to extend an existing contract with Derby train-maker Bombardier – and create another deal which could potentially be worth hundreds of millions of pounds to the company.
At the end of last year, Southern placed a £188 million order with the Litchurch Lane firm for 130 Electrostar railway carriages.
Southern has today confirmed that it intends to take up an option for an extra 40 carriages that will be provided by Bombardier.
The work would be worth about £60 million and would bring the total number of new carriages ordered by Southern to 170.
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But in a separate development, Southern has said it is developing proposals with the Department for Transport for a new order for 116 electric (dual voltage) carriages, with an option for a further 100.
The company said the extra carriages would help the Government address "the wider rolling stock needs of the country".
The cost of that deal has not yet been revealed. But Southern says it intends to launch a new procurement competition for the work and Bombardier is likely to be in the running.
Southern said the order would rely on the DfT accepting the business case for the new vehicles and agreeing amendments to its franchise agreement.
Southern's managing director, Chris Burchell, said: "I'm pleased that Southern is able to assist the DfT in introducing additional capacity. The potential new order for 116 carriages will be exciting news for train manufacturers and for passengers."
When Southern first announced its £188 million order for Electrostars, shortly after Christmas last year, it was a welcome boost for Bombardier's Derby site.
Earlier in the year, the firm had lost out on the £1.4 billion Thameslink contract, which the Government decided to award to German rival Siemens.
As a result, Bombardier ended up shedding 1,000 temporary workers at Litchurch Lane. The company has since vowed to stay in Derby until 2014 while it bids for another large Government contract – the £1 billion Crossrail deal.
The extra 40 carriages that Southern intends to order would be delivered during 2014 for entry into service in December of that year.
Southern has selected Pride Park-based train leasing firm Porterbrook Leasing as preferred bidder to organise the funding.
Bombardier said it was "delighted" by Southern's plans to extend its order but declined to comment further.
A DfT spokesman said: "We welcome this announcement of Southern's intention to take up the option for 40 rolling stock vehicles under their existing contract with Bombardier train builders.
"If this goes ahead, it will provide extra capacity for railway passengers and more work for Bombardier and its Derby workforce.
"We also look forward to working with Southern in developing further procurement opportunities for the rail industry."
Meanwhile, Bombardier supporters are still holding out for a change of heart by the Government in relation to the Thameslink contract, which has still not been signed. Derby North MP Chris Williamson has secured an adjournment debate on the Thameslink and Crossrail contracts, which will take place at the House of Commons on Tuesday.