15 Jul 2011

Thameslink and the Derby job losses


I am not an advocate of Buying British in principle, but Derby would almost certainly have got the Thameslink train order if there had been some rational thinking about Thameslink itself. There is no conceivable train that can operate the route satisfactorily as it comprises two inter-urban routes, two airport links and an inner city metro all in one.

Thameslink should have been cut back to operate within the area of the Greater London Authority. Anyone who has used the service regularly and thought about it must realise this. A problem at, say, Brighton will result, a couple of hours later, in disruption at Bedford, and vice versa. This is not unusual as both the Brighton and Midland main lines carry dense traffic. It would have been better to cut back the route and transfer it to London Overground which is a similar type of service. The trains could then have been a further build of Bombardier class 379 Electrostars.

For the long distance routes a further build of class 377 Electrostars would have done the job perfectly well. A small additional fleet of Electrostars has already been running on Thameslink for the past couple of years. These are fully compatible with Southern's existing fleet so the operators can help each other out when things go wrong. This results in a bit of mixing and borrowing as required.

The introduction of Siemens stock will preclude this as it will almost certainly not be operationally compatible with the Electrostar fleet with which it will share the tracks.

Had the DfT made this a requirement as it most obviously should have been, it is most improbable that the order would gone anywhere else than to Derby. However good the Siemens bid may have been, it has not resulted in a best buy.

I blame the civil servants at the DfT.

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