Thameslink setback could put Bombardier future at risk

BBC East Midlands Today's James Roberson reflects on more than 150 years of rail engineering in Derby

The decision not to award train-maker Bombardier a £1.4bn government contract could put its Derby base under threat.

A consortium led by German firm Siemens has been named as the preferred bidder to build 1,200 carriages for the new Thameslink route.

Transport minister Theresa Villiers said the decision was based on "value for money" for UK taxpayers.

But the news has prompted an angry response in Derby with some suggesting Bombardier may now have to close.

MPs, workers, industry experts and union leaders have all been giving their reaction to the decision.

Bombardier statement

"Bombardier is extremely disappointed not to have been selected as the preferred bidder for Thameslink.

"We will need to be debriefed by the Department for Transport to understand why we were unsuccessful."

Philip Hickson, Derby City Council leader

"This is a devastating result for Bombardier Transportation UK, who needed this contract in order to fill a substantial gap in their order book.

"The news will undoubtedly have implications for its Derby operation and workforce, and for the companies in their supply chain.

"We will, of course be asking for an immediate meeting with the Prime Minister, to put forward Derby's case.

"We have long been one of the powerhouses of the UK economy, as evidenced by David Cameron bringing his cabinet to Rolls-Royce only last March.

"It's now time for the government to pay something back to Derby, and this is what we will be raising with the PM."

Margaret Beckett, Labour MP for Derby South

Margaret Beckett Margaret Beckett: "Short term consideration."

"One can only feel for a very valuable and skilled workforce who must wonder what Bombardier has to do to win an order in this country.

"You have to wonder whether this kind of decision would be made in any other country in the world.

"All these warm words we've been hearing about rebalancing the economy and Britain's future being in manufacturing.

"Derby is an exemplar of all these things and yet when it comes to the crunch, the decision is made on a short-term consideration."

Theresa Villiers, Minister for Transport

"We are required by European law to judge bids entirely impartially on the basis of value for money for the tax payer.

"With a very careful analysis and assessment of the numbers, and with officials from the Department of Transport working closely with both bidders, it was apparent Siemens offered the best value for money."

George Cowcher, chief executive, Derbyshire Chamber of Commerce

"You get these great big contracts in big lumps which therefore have to go out under European procurement rules for all companies.

"It's not done in a way that is suitable for UK business.

"I have to say it's the arrogance of civil servants in London in many respects which has pushed through this way of procuring."

Kate Silvester, editor of Rail Professional Magazine

"It's pretty bad news. There aren't going to be any more rolling stock contracts until Crossrail which isn't coming up any time soon.

"Bombardier have said they might have to close the plant in Derby if they didn't get Thameslink as there isn't much else coming up.

"Even if they did get the Crossrail contract further down the line, they probably can't afford to keep the plant going with no work coming in."

Bob Laxton, former Labour MP for Derby North

Bob Laxton Bob Laxton: "I'm enraged."

"I don't want to be a prophet of doom but I really hope Bombardier doesn't have to close down and pull out of the UK.

"They are the last train builders in this country - the country that invented and built the railway system for the world.

"The worst case scenario, which could really happen, is 3,000 jobs going from round this area and another 10,000 jobs in the supply chain.

"This is potentially disastrous news."

RMT general secretary Bob Crow

"Despite the way that this announcement has been dressed up it, is a massive kick in the teeth for Bombardier and a total betrayal of the workforce in Derby who have the skills and capacity to build this stock.

"Instead we are being fobbed off with a deal which will only create a minimal number of component jobs in Tyne and Wear with the trains themselves built in Germany.

"This is another bitter blow for train building in the UK which will further erode this country's manufacturing skills base."

John Forkin, director of Marketing Derby

"It's a crazy decision. I can't really understand it.

"We're talking about people's lives here - families around the area and young people coming into what is a very proud industry.

"These doors will now be closed.

"It's the British government once again taking the decision to spend British taxpayers' money on another country."

Avenir Gjecmgcha, agency worker at Bombardier

"They said to us that if they got the Thameslink contract we'd get permanent jobs, which I was obviously looking forward to.

"It's bad news for me and for the guys, most of who have been working here for many years."

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