Major Thameslink Rail Contract 'Disaster' - Union

A major UK workers union has described the awarding of new train contract to Siemens as "a disaster" and warning that it "skews the market".

Responding to a Transport Select Committee Report published on Friday looking into the handling of the Thameslink contract, Trade Union Congress (TUC) Deputy General Secretary Frances O'Grady said the report vindicated its concerns on recent public procurement.

According to the Transport Select Committee report, the awarding of the contract to Siemens was influenced heavily by the company's strong credit rating and "excellence in train design" and domestic manufacturing.

"It is hard to escape the conclusion that Siemens' A+ credit rating made a significant contribution to its success in winning the Thameslink procurement. We are concerned that bundling train manufacture and financing together in procurement exercises will skew the market towards larger multinational firms, possibly at the expense of excellence in train design and domestic manufacturing," their report says.

The TUC and rail unions said they had repeatedly raised their concerns over the contract with ministers over the last eighteen months and urged the Government to reassess the award.

A TUC spokesman said: "The Thameslink procurement process has been flawed throughout. In particular, the Select Committee report supports our view that the financing arrangement that forms part of the tender skews the market. Bombardier never had a chance.

"It is still not too late for the government to do the right thing for Bombardier, its workforce, its suppliers and the UK taxpayer, and change its decision.

The TUC said rolling private finance into the Thameslink tender had been a disaster as it benefited the UK's competitors and provided poor value for money at a time when public borrowing was significantly cheaper.


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