Watchdog raises concerns over potential Thameslink delays

A government spending watchdog has called for the contract for new Thameslink trains to be signed imminently to prevent delays, bbc.co.uk reports.

There is currently a delay in securing the £1.6 billion contract for 1,200 carriages, after banks reined in their lending in light of the European financial crisis.

Furthermore, the issue has been compounded by calls for the original deal with Germany’s Siemens factory to be cancelled in favour of a replacement with Bombardier. The Canadian manufacturer owns Britain’s last remaining train factory in Derby, meaning the funding might not only come a little easier but it may also improve British job prospects.

Now, the National Audit Office has urged to government to press on with its deal or it could risk delaying the opening beyond 2018.

Such a delay could prove costly not only for the government but also businesses in the city, which were relying on the rail link for commuters or getting businesspeople in for meetings at nearby function venues.

Responding to the report, a Department for Transport spokesperson told ft.com: “The procurement process for the new Thameslink rolling stock is complex and it is important that we get it absolutely right in order to ensure the best deal for the taxpayer in these challenging financial times.

“However, we are in the final stages of the process and we expect to conclude the deal shortly. We have an experienced senior team in place and are confident that we will be able to deliver the remainder of the project on time and on budget.”