Chairman Pip's Railway Thoughts

I’m amazed

Posted in Business, Great Britain, Lord Adonis, Media, Philip Hammond, Politics, Rolling stock by Chairman Pip on 4 August 2011

The most popular topic for readers of the Daily Express to write to the letters page for the last few weeks, stirred up by the paper’s frankly jingoistic anti-EU claims, has been about the Thameslink rolling stock issue. Naturally, most letters have been of the “this is absolutely terrible, the gutless government giving in to Europe” kind. It was therefore a surprise for me to open it up today and see a letter, while not exactly in support, at least urging people to step back a bit, on one issue at least. This week, it has emerged that the DfT spent around £15m on consultancy fees for the rolling stock procurement. This has been yet another cue for vitriol (“spending taxpayers money to ensure that the contract went to the Germans” etc) from the tabloids and the unions. So it is refreshing to see the letter from H. Atkinson of Haydock printed today. He says that, although he agrees with the unions in their efforts to get a rethinkl on the contract award, and in their criticism over the consultancy fees, he also says the following:

…(the unions) fail to point out that the vast majority of this (£15m) was spent from 2008 by the then Labour government to which they were subscribers.

The residue spent by the present coalition was due to the fact that they were locked into contracts signed by Labour under European Union rules

This is the thing that everyone seems to overlook is that this procurement started under the last government. Yes, I have asked why it was not possible for the government to look at changing the procurement terms when they got in, the fact is they were laid down by the last government, not this one. Criticise this government for not finding a way out of the procurement terms, but don’t criticise this government for the terms themselves. Thank goodness there is the odd rational thinking person like H. Atkinson out there. Of course, it is because his thoughts are so rational that amazes me his letter was printed in the Daily Express.

You know I have a lot of time for Lord Adonis, but the Thameslink procurement was implemented on his watch, so you can't even blame the Roads Man for it

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