Rail industry sources claim that Derby train-maker Bombardier could be “close to winning” a further large order for new trains – but will have to beat off competition from other manufacturers to win the deal.
Last month, the Department for Transport (DfT) awarded the contract to run the new West Midlands rail franchise to a consortium made up of Dutch national operator Abellio with the East Japan Railway Company and Mitsui and Co. Ltd.
The consortium, which will operate the franchise as West Midlands Trains, will take over services previously run by London Midland, owned by Anglo-French consortium Govia.
It is understood that the consortium has now signed a contract with the DfT, allowing the new franchise to begin operating before the end of the year.
When it was announced that West Midlands Trains had been awarded the contract, the firm said that it promised to invest almost £1 billion in the business including the acquisition of around 400 new carriages by 2021.
And at the time, industry sources told the Derby Telegraph that Bombardier hoped to build “some of them”, with the firm most likely bidding to supply electric trains.
Now, those sources believe the Litchurch Lane business could soon hear whether it has been successful – and are predicting that it could be good news for the Derby firm.
Signatures of other recent rail franchise contracts have been followed shortly afterwards by rolling stock orders. With this in mind, it is hoped that there will be a decision on which manufacturer will supply trains to West Midlands.
Although the company has a strong design, engineering and manufacturing base in Litchurch Lane, Derby, Bombardier could face competition from a host of other manufacturers, all of which are growing their presence in the UK.
Bombardier’s Derby site is the only one in the UK that can design, build and test trains at a single location
They include German-based Siemens and French firm Alstom, which this week agreed to merge their rail operations – bringing to an end speculation that Siemens could merge with Bombardier and fears that such a partnership might lead to possible rationalisation at Derby.
Siemens built most of the new trains acquired by the London Midland franchise a decade ago, something which could stand it in good stead for the West Midlands Trains franchise work. Meanwhile, Alstom has recently established a UK factory in Widnes.
Spanish firm CAF has won orders in the North of England and announced in the summer that it planned to set up an assembly plant in South Wales.
Japanese manufacturer Hitachi already has a UK presence with an assembly facility in County Durham.
Hitachi’s assembly facility at Newton Aycliffe, County Durham
And finally, Swiss manufacturer Stadler, which secured the Merseyrail contract at the end of last year, ahead of Bombardier, is looking for more UK work.
It is understood that all of these manufacturers are attracted to the UK market because of changes to the DfT’s requirements for new franchises, encouraging potential operators to offer new trains rather than refurbish existing ones.
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Bombardier has already benefited from this approach – securing £900 million deals to supply trains to the new Greater Anglia and South West rail franchises.
In addition, in recent years it has also won major orders for Elizabeth Line (formerly Crossrail) and London Overground trains.
But the Litchurch Lane factory is still thought to have enough capacity to take on further substantial projects, such as the West Midlands Trains deal.
Source: Derby Telegraph