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Sunday, May 19, 2024

Warning that Thameslink train delay could derail programme

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The Department for Transport has been praised for keeping infrastructure costs for the Thameslink Programme to budget but also warned about the impact delays in the procurement of rolling stock could have on the project.

A report by the National Audit Office has shown that although phase one of the programme came in £143 million under budget at £1.704 billion, problems finalising the £1.6 billion rolling stock contract still threatened its future.

Siemens was announced as the preferred train builder in 2011 but ministers are yet to sign off the order.

The National Audit Office has said the delay questions whether the DfT will be able to deliver the programme by 2018 and to the £6 billion budget.

Amyas Morse, head of the National Audit Office, said: “It’s too early in the Thameslink programme to conclude on whether or not it will achieve value for money. That will have to wait until the new service is running. However, there has been good progress in delivering the first stage of the infrastructure part of the programme on time and under budget, which the Department now needs to build on.

“Our principal concern is around the delay in agreeing the contract to build new trains which raises questions about the feasibility of delivering the whole programme by 2018.”

The programme’s focus is currently on London Bridge station where platforms 14, 15 and 16 have been closed off to allow redevelopment work to start.

The full report can be accessed here.

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  1. As I have pointed out before, further delays to this rolling stock order will not only mean that the 2018 completion date for Thameslink will be missed but it will affect other – ongoing – electrification projects. Refurbished class 319s were destined to be cascaded to both the North West and Great Western but it is looking more and more likely that they will be staying with Thameslink for some time to come. The wiring is due to be completed between Manchester and Liverpool plus Liverpool and Wigan in late 2014 but rail watchers in the North West are coming to the conclusion that services will remain diesel operated for, at least, a further three or possibly four years.

  2. Too right Bresm, this is DafT at it’s worst! The best suggestion is another batch of 379s for Anglia and some 377s for Southern to use on Thameslink services. This releases up to 35 317s for their refurbishment and electrical upgrade so these can go to the North West to start the Lancashire services. It would be more sense to keep the Dual Voltage 319s on the Southern, as the dual system electrics could facilitate any DC to AC conversion.
    That’s the common sense approach, but don’t expect such a practical solution out of DafT!


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