I’ve got an article on the Guardian’s Comment is Free website about Thameslink rolling stock, countering some of the heated rhetoric that’s been expended over the last two years about this, particularly on the vexed subject of British jobs. I write:
“To blame the government for not simply awarding the contract to Bombardier is the easy answer and many people have lunged for it. But not only does it ignore the fact that Bombardier lost the competition according to objective criteria (hence it didn’t appeal the decision), it overlooks a deeper, more intractable truth about how we procure not only trains, but many of our public works.”
Read more here. Meanwhile I’d like to clear up a few points about the Thameslink project which my word count and angle for The Guardian did not permit.
1) As I previously blogged, Siemens have already invested some of their project equity in designing the trains, even before they had a contract. Since then, I have learned that they went further – they actually started building the trains in advance. I am told that this was not so surprising given Siemens’ financial heft, but also that it was done with one eye on the timetable – the first batch of trains have to be delivered in late 2015.
2) Some people have pointed out we don’t know how the bids were scored. That’s true, but we do know the criteria and I know that Siemens was ahead on the two final, critical counts, namely the cost of building and maintaining the trains (on a net present value basis) and the ability to raise finance. More on finance in my previous post right below.