Chairman Pip's Railway Thoughts

Chopping might sting a bit

Posted in London, Politics, Rolling stock by Chairman Pip on 30 May 2010

The opening weeks of the United Kingdom’s new government have proven difficult, as we all come to terms with the age of austerity. However, the press, as seems to be their wont, will often get overexcited when it comes to reporting what actually will be cut. Hence the story on BBC Radio 4’s consumer programme You & Yours that the DfT is considering cutting the Thameslink rolling stock order, in spite of the fact that the rolling stock cascade planned by Lord Adonis before the election (when he announced the electrification programme) will still go ahead. Now the DfT did announce that rolling stock orders would be cancelled, but at the same time it said that these would be those parts of the 1,300 vehicle High Level Output Specification plan where contracts had not already been signed. However, the orders for both Thameslink and Crossrail are seperate from the HLOS plan, and so do not count towards the 1,300 vehicles intended to be ordered. So (in theory), these orders should be safe from any cuts. Nevertheless, at an estimated £1bn for the Thameslink order, and presumably a similar amount for the Crossrail order, there may well be room for some degree of cost saving to be made. As it stands, Thameslink and Crossrail are seperate operations, and will have seperate fleets. But given that essentially they will be doing the same job (providing a high frequency rail service across London), why not combine the operations under a single operator, as the RER is in Paris, and have that operator have a single fleet for both of its operations. Just as London Overground did with its Class 378 fleet, these could be divided into two batches, with one operating using 25kV from OHLE (for Crossrail), and the other dual voltage (for Thameslink). This would make more sense as a combined operation than the current franchise operated by First Capital Connect, and would save the cost of designing and building two seperate fleets (potentially from two seperate manufacturers) which the DfT will have to stump up.

“‘No decision’ on Thameslink rolling stock”

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