4 Oct 2012

WCML fiasco - and the IEP tendering procedure

I will not comment on the WCML fiasco except to say that it points up the need to look at the way the IEP contract was awarded.

The original specification for the IEP was not met by any of the submissions from the competing tenders. The final specification for the trains that have been ordered is significantly different from that in the original tender.

The train manufacturing companies could reasonably argue that they never had the opportunity to bid on the basis of the final specification. Whether they would be within their rights to ask for a judicial review is a matter for the lawyers, but given that IEP is extraordinarily bad money, as was point out by Foster, suggests that the taxpayers would have an interest in the outcome.


  1. On the WCML bid, the Minister has said that "These flaws stem from the way the level of risk in the bids was evaluated. Mistakes were made in the way in which inflation and passenger numbers were taken into account ..."

    It could not possibly be the case that either the "can carriers", or the processes, or the software deployed on the WCML were involved in producing the figures for HS2 for IEP? Could it?

    1. If there are errors in the figures for HS2 then given the growth is based on about 2.5% per year rather than the 5% plus of Virgin & First in their tenders it is unlikely that they will be too low.

    2. So, the best minds at the DfT predicted HS2 2.5% a year. A year later the WCML franchise bidders predicted 5% a year, i.e. twice as much. And nobody thought to ask any questions? Really?

    3. That is because the modelling for HS2 has to be robust to warrant spending the money on it, yet if First or Virgin get their sums wrong there was (perhaps miss calculated as it turns out) a financial penalty (as well as a little margin of error within the amount of profit the companies make).
      Whenever modelling is undertaken there is a fair amount of educated guessing and assumptions that have to be made, as such best practice is to be robust in the calculations as HS2 has been with the much lower than the current growth rate, whist the Virgin/first bids should have that robustness built in in other ways.

  2. Can you give details of what makes the current design "significantly different from that in the original tender."

  3. quote: "Of particular concern is that the DfT made clear the new train could not have underfloor engines. Consequently, Bombardier and Siemens were unable to deploy a modified version of sucessful Voyager/Meridian desing.."

    in "Thameslink rolling stock procurement: eleventh report of session 2010-12", Vol. 1 (Stationary Office) Ev43 http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=-L25JN49WjgC

    It's possible that Bombardier did not remember correctly, and this statement is simply caused by pique. If not the current situation is bizarre.

  4. Anonymous, can you clarify your first comment, it is not clear what you are trying to say.

    To answer your second question in detail would require the services of an engineer and a barrister working together for several weeks to comb through all the relevant documents. However, in short, none of the bids satisfied all the requirements. Hitachi apparently was the nearest and was then given the opportunity to develop its concept into something practicable, though in the meantime the requirements had changed somewhat and there were further changes in response to some of the criticisms in the Foster report. Thus the IEP has been massively re-worked and now resembles the Voyager + pantograph car concept, which surely Bombardier would have offered if a fresh tender had been put out based on the final design for which the contract was awarded?