Commuters from Brighton and Hove can expect to start travelling on Thameslink trains built by Siemens in less than three years’ time.
The company was confirmed as the winner of £1.6bn contract today (Thursday 27 June) to build 1,140 carriages to serve the Thameslink route.
The company said that the contract would create up to 2,000 jobs across the supply chain in Britain in component manufacturing, assembly and maintenance.
Some of those jobs would be in construction with one of the maintenance depots expected to be built in the Crawley area.
Siemens won the contract in a contest with Bombardier. The initial announcement caused concern about a loss of British jobs.
The deal is part of a £6 billion infrastructure and rolling stock upgrade. The aim is to increase capacity on one of the busiest stretches of railway in Europe and improve reliability and connectivity across London and the south east.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “This contract is a boost for UK PLC, delivering jobs and injecting crucial investment into the rail industry.
“It will also vastly improve train travel into the capital, providing fast, frequent services carrying more passengers than ever before.
“This is just one of many rolling stock orders in the pipeline which is both great news for other suppliers and the wider economy.”
The first trains are due to start running by the start of 2016 with the full fleet in operation by the end of 2018.
The Department for Transport said: “A new interchange at Farringdon will also give Thameslink passengers access to the future Crossrail line for east-west journeys across London.”
The new generation of electric commuter carriages will release the existing carriages for use elsewhere on the network.
They may go to the north west of England or the Thames Valley commuter lines as those parts of the network are fully electrified.
Steve Scrimshaw, managing director UK at Siemens Rail Systems, said: “The introduction of the new Desiro City will offer a much-improved passenger travel experience and a step change in capacity and reliability.
“It’s a technologically advanced train that has been designed with UK travellers in mind, incorporating proven technology and using the expertise, skills and feedback of highly experienced UK operators, train crew, cleaners and maintenance staff at every stage of the process.
“Importantly, the contract will support the creation of up to 2,000 jobs.
“This includes some 600 highly skilled roles involved in the manufacture of hi-tech electrical components to help secure sustainable rail industry skills, as well as broader supply industry benefits and jobs associated with the depot construction and ongoing train maintenance requirements in Crawley and Hornsey.”
The jobs created by the rolling stock project are on top of those created by the Thameslink infrastructure works currently under way. Together these are known as the Thameslink programme.
At the peak of construction activity about 3,000 people are expected to be directly employed on the Thameslink programme infrastructure works.
A similar number are estimated to be employed in related jobs in the wider community.
David Statham, managing director of the current franchisee First Capital Connect, said: “Through our work on the Thameslink programme we have already introduced new trains, new stations, the route’s first 12-carriage trains and 29 per cent more seats at our busiest times of the day.
“These new trains will now further transform our passengers’ experience on the Bedford to Brighton and Great Northern routes, connecting new communities north and south of London and providing many longer services.”
During recent delays on a hot day, one First Capital Connect customer tweeted that he couldn’t understand why people were moaning, adding: “At least the heating works.”
To judge by many other critical comments, passengers will hope that Mr Statham is right and that their traveling experience will be transformed.
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