July 2011 | Adam Leach
Transport secretary Philip Hammond is consulting
on ways to increase support for UK train manufacturers when awarding rail and
this morning on Radio 4’s Today
programme, he said: “My observation is that the way some of our continental
partners approach these things is to look more strategically at the support to
the domestic supply chain.” He highlighted that both France and Germany
“routinely” award contracts to domestic suppliers.
The issue of domestic support was raised as train manufacturer Bombardier
announced it is to cut more than 1,400 jobs from its Derby factory.
said the Department of Transport is already looking at ways to increase support
for the UK supply chain, to come into effect before tenders are submitted for
the Crossrail project. He said he is confident that “even within the
constraints of the EU procurement directive” it is possible to increase
domestic bidders’ chances of success.
However, shadow business secretary John Denham, also speaking on Today, called on the government to
re-open its decision to award the building of carriages for the Thameslink
programme to German manufacturer Siemens, instead of Bombardier. But Hammond said
his department could only act on the basis of the criteria for the project that
was determined by Labour in 2008. He said their only other option was to scrap
the project, which was already late and has already cost £1 billion.
Hammond then quoted from a letter he received
from Bombardier in May. That explained that job cuts were the result of other
work having come to an end and said 1,200 positions would have to go whether or
not they won the Thameslink deal. The letter said: “The successful completion
of existing contracts means that it is already inevitable that Bombardier will
experience a dip in workload, the scale of which will mean the lay-off of
around 1,200 employees.”