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Thameslink and Crossrail Contracts

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:19 pm on 20th November 2012.

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Photo of Norman Baker Norman Baker The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport 4:19 pm, 20th November 2012

Of course—I am absolutely happy to accept that. I welcome new jobs wherever they are created in this country. These are train-related jobs that help both the rail industry and the wider economy.

At this point, I will try to answer some of the questions that the hon. Gentleman put. Some were related to the past, and I take the point made by my hon. Friend Dr Offord that the hon. Gentleman’s speech was largely about the past, rather than the future.

The hon. Gentleman asked specifically about Siemens and read out extracts from the legislation relating to the position that he thinks applies in this case. I should make it clear that for convictions to give rise to the requirement to exclude Siemens plc from the Thameslink rolling stock project, those individuals involved in the activities that resulted in convictions would need to be in a position of power, representation, decision or control of Siemens plc. The Department investigated the position at the pre-qualification stage and was satisfied that that was not the case. Consequently, we can reiterate that the Department does not consider there were grounds to exclude Siemens plc from the Thameslink rolling stock contract.

The hon. Gentleman also mentioned Crossrail, of course, as he looked to the future. Before discussing Crossrail, I should finish talking about Thameslink by referring to the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Hendon in an intervention on the hon. Gentleman. My hon. Friend’s point was that Thameslink was largely done and dusted by the time that this Administration came to power and, to use the phrase that I think my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence used at the time, when he was Secretary of State for Transport, all he did was “open the envelope”. That is the consequence of that particular process.

Moving on to Crossrail, the £14.5 billion Crossrail project will create vital new transport infrastructure to support economic growth. The project will deliver a 74-mile railway; 13 miles of new tunnels under London; new, expanded or upgraded stations along the Crossrail route; and a new fleet of trains. When the project is complete, Crossrail services will run from Maidenhead and Heathrow in the west to Shenfield and Abbeywood in the east. For the millions of people who will use its services, Crossrail will deliver faster journey times and better connectivity, while reducing overcrowding on other services. Overall, it will provide a 10% uplift in London’s rail transport capacity. Crossrail is not only great news for passengers, but good news for the economy, as it will support growth and the UK’s long-term competitiveness. Crossrail will provide 14,000 jobs at the peak of construction and is predicted to facilitate employment growth of up to 30,000 jobs by 2026.

The Government, working with Transport for London as its co-sponsor, established Crossrail Ltd as a single-purpose delivery body for the Crossrail project. Crossrail Ltd is responsible for procuring the many contracts needed to deliver the project, the largest of those being the contract for an initial order of around 600 new carriages—the exact number is a matter for the bidders—and a new depot at Old Oak Common. The contract is expected to be worth in the region of £1 billion and is likely to include options to allow TfL to expand the fleet in future years to accommodate demand and respond to possible changes, such as High Speed 2. The procurement of Crossrail’s rolling stock marks the beginning of Crossrail’s transition from Europe’s largest engineering project to an operational, world-class railway. These will be modern, high-capacity trains that replace many older, inner-suburban trains that run into Paddington and Liverpool Street.

Our priority is to deliver that new railway, which so many people are looking forward to, on schedule and to ensure that we do so as efficiently as possible, with value for money for the taxpayer and future fare payers always in mind. We are clear that we want to secure the right train at the right price to deliver the benefits of Crossrail to London and the south-east. The only way to achieve that is through a strong and fair procurement policy. Four bidders—Bombardier, CAF of Spain, Hitachi and Siemens—submitted first-round bids by the deadline of 29 October. I have no knowledge of what is in the bids, but I hope that Bombardier, along with the other bidders, has submitted a strong, competitive bid that meets the exacting requirements of Crossrail. I am sure that the hon. Member for Derby North would like us to follow proper EU procurement policy and rules.

Those first-round bids are being assessed by Crossrail Ltd. It expects to be in a position to shortlist bidders next spring, so as to move to the next stage of the competition. It is hoped that a preferred bidder will be announced later next year, with the project moving to financial close in 2014. The first train is expected to enter service between Liverpool Street and Shenfield—the first section of the Crossrail route that will be operated by TfL—in 2017. The full Crossrail service is expected to be fully operational in late 2019, with the central tunnel section opening in advance of that.