As I noted recently, preferred bidder status for a new fleet of trains to operate what is known as the Thameslink route has been awarded to Siemens, with most of those trains slated to be built at Krefeld, which is in Germany. The company not getting the nod, Bombardier, would have built the fleet at Derby, which is in the UK.
Bombardier, having inherited what was once British Rail Engineering (BREL), also has facilities elsewhere in the UK, including the works at Crewe. However, that site has not built anything of note for around twenty years, repair work ended last year, and all that is done nowadays is refurbishment of bogies and wheelsets.
This, though, has not stopped Crewe and Nantwich MP Edward Timpson from wading shamelessly into the argument over new train orders, despite Crewe Works no longer having the means to build even part of them. Thus he characterised the appointment of Hitachi as preferred bidder for new Inter-City trains as “exporting Crewe jobs to Japan”.
So it was no surprise when Timpson went off the end of the pier over the Thameslink order, with a bizarre attack on the previous Government which, he claims, “set unfair terms for this long bidding process, priced Bombardier out of the market before they had even started, and tied the hands of the Coalition Government under European law”.
And this is flagrantly dishonest: the terms under which both Bombardier and Siemens bid were the same, no price penalty was imposed on either bidder, and the idea of the Government having its hands tied ignores one significant aspect of the exercise. Having seen the difference in the bids – and my information is that it was substantial – the Government went back to Bombardier, indicated the nature of the lower bid, and gave the company the opportunity to revise their offer.
So much for having their hands tied. In any case, Bombardier chose not to match or even approach the Siemens bid. As one industry insider put it, Siemens bid “several thousand less per vehicle”, and concluded “this was a fair contest, and the right manufacturer got the order”. Also, there would have been no extra jobs at Crewe even if Bombardier had won – as with the order for Inter-City trains.I understand that, as a party politician, Edward Timpson is bound to cheer for his team and paint Labour, his main challenger in Crewe and Nantwich, in an unfavourable light. This, after all, is part of The Rough Game. But that does not require the shameless dishonesty he has shown over Siemens winning the Thameslink order over Bombardier.