THE future of train building at Bombardier’s Litchurch Lane factory in Derby has been assured for the next few years by the Government’s announcement that the company has been chosen as the preferred bidder for a £1 billion contract to build 65 trains for London Crossrail.
The contract, between Transport for London and Bombardier, covers the supply, delivery and maintenance of 585 vehicles and a depot at Old Oak Common near Paddington in west London. There are also options for up to 18 more trains.
Key features of the high-capacity trains include air conditioning and interconnecting walk-through vehicles, as well as realtime passenger information systems.
The trains will be approximately 200 metres long and able to carry up to 1,500 passengers. They will be lightweight and built with an emphasis on energy efficiency and use of intelligent on-train energy management systems.
TfL will introduce the trains from May 2017, with the fleet progressively introduced to the existing rail network – initially between Liverpool Street and Shenfield – in advance of the launch of services through the central London tunnels in December 2018.
Crossrail will boost London’s rail-based capacity by 10 per cent, connecting Maidenhead and Heathrow in the west and Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east. There have been suggestions that the western terminus should be Reading rather than Maidenhead, but no decision has yet been taken.
Bombardier managing director Francis Paonessa said: “We are absolutely delighted with the news, which is a real endorsement of the hard work the team has put in. We have been working on the design for the past year.”
He said the company had spent £20 million developing the new train, dubbed ‘Aventra’ at Derby, which is the company’s world centre for design and construction in aluminium.
Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin – a Derbyshire MP – said: “This announcement will mean state of the art trains providing quick, comfortable journeys for the millions of people Crossrail will serve. It is also great news for British manufacturing and for Derbyshire.”
Shadow transport secretary Mary Creagh said: “Following the Thameslink train fiasco which led to a £1.6 billion contract leaving the UK and putting thousands of jobs at risk, Labour called on the Government to award future contracts to companies who would build trains in the UK. Labour wants to see trains built in Britain. Today's decision will safeguard the future of the Bombardier factory at Derby and support British jobs and apprenticeships.”
TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said the announcement was 'wonderful news' for Derby, adding that "workers in the city will be relieved to learn that jobs and apprenticeships at the factory have been secured for a good few years”.
The Derby and Derbyshire Rail Forum, which represents over 100 rail-related businesses in the East Midlands, said the decision to award the contract to Bombardier was “welcome news.”
The Forum added: “Litchurch Lane is an important manufacturing facility in Derby and employs large numbers of local people who contribute to the regional economy, and support a wide range of businesses and communities across the East Midlands.
“The DDRF looks forward to working with Bombardier, as preferred manufacturer, to ensure that our supply chain members can benefit from this decision, many of whom supply world-leading technology to rolling stock manufacturers across the globe.”
The Department for Transport said the contract would support 760 manufacturing jobs plus 80 apprenticeships, and estimated that 74 per cent of contract expenditure will remain in the British economy. Constructing the maintenance depot at Old Oak Common will provide a further 244 jobs, plus 16 apprenticeships, while the operational depot will create 80 permanent jobs.
The Litchurch Lane plant is presently constructing further class 377 and 387 trains for Southern and Thameslink services and additional vehicles for TfL’s London Overground Class 378 trains, and is also completing the final 400 cars of S-Stock for London Underground,
Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: “The manufacture of these new trains will not only revolutionise rail travel in London, they will deliver jobs and economic growth in their birthplace in Derby and across the UK. With a firm on board to deliver a fleet of 21st century trains and the tunnelling more than halfway complete, we’re on track to deliver a truly world-class railway for the capital.”
The contract is expected to be confirmed after a mandatory 10-day standstill period.