Train procurement gets go-ahead

4 March 2011
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Intercity replacement procurement nears conclusion
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MPs lambast Super Express train procurement
Three firms on track for high-speed train deal

4 March 2011 | Lindsay Clark

The UK government is set to press ahead with a multi-billion pound train procurement programme following delays last year.

Transport secretary Philip Hammond gave the go-ahead for the £4.5 billion Intercity Express Programme (IEP) together with £704 million plans to electrify the Great Western Main Line between Cardiff, Bristol and Didcot.

The government said it would resume the IEP procurement with Agility Trains, a consortium including Hitachi and John Laing, in order to replace the UK's ageing intercity high-speed fleet.

Last summer the government delayed the procurement programme until it had completed its October spending review. The decision followed a report by Sir Andrew Foster, former head of the Audit Commission, which found that the programme was within the government’s value threshold, but said that other possible options had not been fully assessed. The need for commercial confidentiality had resulted in insufficient communication between the Department for Transport and key stakeholders, he said.

Announcing the green light for the contract this week, Hammond said: “While this is, of course, subject to the government continuing to be satisfied that the proposal offers value for money as the commercial negotiations are concluded and that the final arrangements are compliant with the UK’s EU obligations, I expect that the first of the new trains will be in service by 2016.”

Hitachi is set to build a new factory in County Durham that is expected to be operational by 2013.

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