Government sets up company to by-pass Roscos for 202 new DMUs

WITH the Department for Transport still at war with the train leasing companies (Roscos) over their alleged high charges — and with the Roscos increasingly reluctant to finance new diesel-powered trains — the Government has set up a new company to oversee procurement of 202 new diesel multiple unit carriages.

Transport Minister Andrew Adonis announced that his Department had set up a new company, Diesel Trains Limited, to oversee the procurement of the additional vehicles (previously always referred to as 200 vehicles) to relieve overcrowding in the Thames Valley, around Bristol and on longer-distances in northern England.

The new trains — part of Chancellor Alistair Darling’s pre-budget review, announced last November — are set to enter service by 2012, subject to negotiations between the DfT and First Great Western, Trans-Pennine Express and Northern Rail.

Transport Minister Lord Adonis said: “This is the most effective way to buy new trains quickly and for the benefit of passengers. This new company is an illustration of the Government's commitment to reducing crowding for rail passengers.

“This is a milestone in the delivery of new carriages which will help to increase rail capacity on some of our busiest routes. I'm delighted we have reached such an important stage and that passengers will see the benefits within a relatively short period of time.”

In letters to industry partners, the DfT says it does not intend to be a long-term owner of trains and the new company is not intended to compete with other rolling stock leasing companies.

The Department said that to ensure this is the case it would invite the market to bid either for the company or for the assets and related contracts within it, and to take over the ownership and leasing of the trains.

However, the present Roscos have shown great reluctance to take on responsibility for new diesel trains, believing that electrification will be the long-term traction energy source and that any new diesel trains will have little residual value after a few years.

A formal complaint by the DfT about Rosco charges was referred last year to the Competition Commission – but the Commission largely supported the Roscos and blamed the level of leasing charges on the Government’s micro-management of passenger train franchises.

‘Rotem pulls out’

ONE of the companies invited by the Department for Transport to tender for the construction of 202 additional coaches, Hyundai Rotem of Korea, has reportedly withdrawn.

The remaining bidders are Bombardier Transportation, CAF of Spain, and Chinese Sourced Railway Equipment on behalf of CSR Nanjing Puzhen Rolling Stock Co., which is owned by the Chinese government.

Last week Rotem — in partnership with Mitsui of Japan and Tokyu Car Corporation of Japan — was awarded a €140 million (£124 million) order by Irish Railways, Iarnród Éireann, for 51 new Intercity railcar carriages … making the cost of each diesel-powered carriage worth more than £2.4 million.

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