Train parts are pulled through the Bombardier plant in Derby

Thameslink contract should be reviewed - MPs

An official review of the process by which the UK decided to award a key rail contract to Siemens AG should take place, MPs say.

In June, Britain awarded a consortium led by Germany's Siemens a contract to build and maintain 1,200 carriages for the £6 billion Thameslink cross-London railway. As a result, Canada's Bombardier said it would cut more than 1,400 jobs at its plant in Derby, central England, where it made and maintained trains for use on the line.

Britain’s Transport Select Committee chairwoman Louise Ellman said the committee had asked the National Audit Office to review the decision and report to parliament by next summer.

"We believe that in the public interest an independent review must evaluate whether this massive contract was awarded correctly on the basis of the criteria in the original invitation to tender," said Ellman.

The government has said the Siemens contract itself would not be reviewed or put out to tender again.

The transport committee's report into the procurement process found Siemens' triple A credit rating "almost certainly made a significant contribution" to its success in winning the Thameslink deal.

It said the bundling of train manufacture and financing together in large procurement exercises would skew the market towards larger multinational firms, possibly at the expense of excellence in train design and domestic manufacturing.

"The government must do more to ensure that UK-based companies in, or supplying, the train building sector enjoy a steadier flow of business opportunities including new projects before the next major train procurement," said Ellman.

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