Move raises hopes that UK firm could win deal

Crossrail has announced it is to delay the tender for the supplier of a new fleet of trains and depots for the new cross-London project until 2012, in a move that has raised hopes the deal could go to a UK-based firm.

The £1bn tender to supply up to 60 new trains and depots for the £16bn Crossrail project had been expected to be launched later this year, with the decision announced in 2013.

However a delay will allow time for the Department for Transport to conduct a review of the EU procurement rules to see if the UK companies are unfairly losing out to rivals for large UK infrastructure projects.

Earlier this year UK-based train maker Bombardier lost out to rival firm Siemens on a £1.4bn contract to  provide trains for the rebuilt Thameslink service. Bombadier announced a review into its train operations at its Derby plant following the Thameslink decision.

Crossrail said in a statement that the decision to delay the supply of trains will result in significant cost savings by shortening the time period that trains will be introduced to the network. The delay will result in trains being introduced to the network in May 2017, rather than November 2016.

Though the exact figure has not been announced, Crossrail said the savings would run into the tens of millions.

Andy Mitchell, Crossrail programme director said: “Crossrail has identified that significant operational cost savings, running into tens of millions, can be realised for taxpayers by introducing Crossrail rolling stock to the rail network over a shorter period of time.”  

Of the five potential bidders for the crossrail project, Alstom Transport has subsequently withdrawn from the Crossrail rolling stock and depot contract shortlist.

The remaining bidders include Bombardier, Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles SA (CAF), Hitachi Rail Europe and Siemens.

Crossrail will run 118 km from Maidenhead and Heathrow in the west, through new twin-bore 21 km tunnels under central London to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east. It will bring an additional 1.5 million people within 45 minutes commuting distance of London’s key business districts.