19 May 2009 | Martha McKenzie-Minifie
The Department for Transport (DfT) faces a "major challenge" to bring 1,300 new rail carriages into service by 2014, a group of MPs says.
A report from the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) found:
"There are only 423 on order so far, with the first set entering service towards the end of 2010.
"Another 150 carriages are the subject of negotiations, and it will take 30 to 36 months overall to mobilise the supply chain. This suggests deliveries running into 2011-2012 for the current work in progress. The DfT therefore faces a major challenge to complete the orders for delivery by 2014."
The new rail carriages would be added to operator fleets across all 16 franchises.
The DfT took over responsibility for passenger rail franchising from the Strategic Rail Authority in 2005. The report said the eight franchises that had since been re-let had been completed within the planned timescales after a good level of competition.
Edward Leigh, PAC chairman, said the department had shown it could protect taxpayers' interests in the letting of rail franchises but was "less good" in not considering damaging side effects for passengers.