Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

BRITISH FIRMS LOSE [Pounds sterling]1BN TRAIN DEAL TO 'FASTER' GERMANS

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

BRITISH FIRMS LOSE [Pounds sterling]1BN TRAIN DEAL TO 'FASTER' GERMANS

Article excerpt

Byline: DICK MURRAY

LONDON commuter trains costing [pound]1 billion are being built in Germany because British manufacturers failed to meet either the delivery deadline or the price.

South West Trains, which runs on the busiest routes in the country into Waterloo, will unveil the first of its high-specification Desiro trains at a test track at Wildenrath, Germany, next week.

The decision to order from Siemens disappointed train manufacturers here who competed for the lucrative contract, Britain's biggest ever single order for rolling stock. Moving to Germany, however, illustrates the poor state of the UK train-building industry.

Train-maker Bombardier - Midlands-based but French-Canadian owned - which has taken over the former British Rail engineering works, said: "We competed for the contract and when we failed it caused a lot of upset because it would have guaranteed jobs in this country.

"We always try to push the fact that we are a UK-based manufacturer but it is cheaper elsewhere."

A second company, Alstom, which has its British headquarters in Birmingham, also failed.

Jane Lee, spokeswoman for Stagecoach-owned South West Trains, said: "We invited British and European companies to tender in the way we are required to do. The winning bid was chosen on the basis of price, specification and the ability to meet the tight 2004 deadline." But an SWT source said: "We went to Germany because of the unreliability of trains built in this country.

We would have been happy to award the contract to someone here but, frankly, they were beaten on price and delivery. You only have to look at the situation at Connex to see what we mean."

Siemens said: "The reason why we won the contract and are able meet the tough deadline is because of our special test track. We know from experience that trains need to be proven before they are delivered.

That is our trump card."

There is no equal test track in the UK - instead trains, once they are delivered, have to be run for thousands of miles without passengers which all adds to the time taken before they go into service. …

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