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This article, following on from part 1 and part 2 of articles on the report from the National Audit Office (NAO), was intended to be very short and mainly deal with the limited NAO comments on Thameslink and franchising. Since then the deal to purchase Siemens trains was announced so we will have a brief look at that before continuing.

It came as quite a surprise, and a pleasant one for most people, when on the last working day before two years had elapsed since Siemens had been announced as preferred bidder, the DfT announced that agreement had been reached with Siemens. Others, notably Roger Ford of Modern Railways, who are used to the DfT suddenly getting orders out to pre-empt embarrassing anniversaries, may have been half-expecting it.

…that which we call a close by any other name would smell as sweet

The announcement does mean that we can reduce the speculation and have an idea what to expect. The order is for 1140 carriages. This is slightly fewer than the generally publicly quoted “around 1200” but within the expected range. Nowadays the aim is generally to have contracts specifying performance requirements and leave it to the manufacturer to decide how to meet them. As an example, he may be shown the timetable that he is expected to provide trains for and it is up to him to decide how many extra trains he needs for maintenance to meet this target. For this reason alone the order would never have been definitive in specifying the exact number of carriages.

Currently there is no suggestion that the deadline will not be met so it appears that Siemens believe that they can achieve this. The NAO states that it is only after the contract has been let that it will be possible for Network Rail, or the DfT, to ask questions about other issues that may be critical in meeting that deadline. So presumably, as soon as the mandatory ten day grace period is over, these questions will now be asked.

Siemens have the challenging, but certainly not impossible, task of producing all the trains ready for service in December 2018. What may turn out to be more critical is how quickly they can produce and deliver their first trains. This will not only be critical to Siemens in order to establish any problems that there may be as soon as possible but will also be critical to others – especially as the core section of Thameslink will rely on an Automatic Train Operation (ATO) which, as far as we are aware, is not some off the shelf system that can be relied upon to work in the Thameslink tunnels without modification.

Siemens – Tied Up or Buoyed Up?

A further issue raised by readers is whether this means that Siemens will be out of the running for the soon to be announced additional train order for 25 4-car units with a subsequent option for further 28 units. It may be that Siemens has too many committed orders to even consider bidding. Conversely, they may think that, having got this order, they are in a good position to get that order too and will do what is necessary to fulfil both.

If they decide not to bid that will be a blow for the DfT, especially as it will be seen as a consequence the late resolution of the main Thameslink order. What would be irksome for the DfT is if Siemens were to announce in advance that they did not intend to bid which would somewhat reduce the competitive nature of it. It remains to be seen if Alstom or Hitachi or any Eastern European or Chinese companies show an interest.

The Important Franchising issue

The largely forgotten issue of Thameslink is the need to get an appropriate franchise in place. Readers will probably be relieved to learn that, on this occasion, the National Audit Office limited their comments on franchising to a few paragraphs.

Project managers always fear the external factors over which they have no control. In the case of Thameslink this has come from the fiasco over franchising caused by failures in awarding the West Coast Main Line franchise which only came to light after Richard Branson and Brian Souter decided to take the DfT to court. It may have been an external factor for the DfT Thameslink Project team but certainly was not for the DfT as a whole.

The NAO report on the West Coast Main Line (WCML) franchise does not make easy reading, unless you are the sort of person who feels comfortable with terms like “subordinated loan facility”. In simple terms the problem appears to be that First Group put in a very optimistic bid for the WCML which promised large payments to the DfT in the later years of the franchise, whereas in the first few years First Group would probably make large profits. The issue in essence was this – what was a reasonable amount of money for First Group to put up in order to ensure that they didn’t just walk away after a few years of easy profit?

The Brown Report

The government commissioned a report into what went wrong with the WCML franchise. This was the Laidlaw Report. Of more relevance to future franchising was the Brown Report. This concluded that franchising was not fundamentally flawed but it did expose a number of problems. So the DfT could continue with the franchise programme but Thameslink in particular would be a problem because who in their right mind would agree to a franchise with so many unknowns.

There was a vital paragraph in the Brown Report that offered the DfT at least a partial way out of the mess.

4.42 There is a rather better case for management contracts where a franchisee is facing major and sustained disruption because of infrastructure works, and where revenue growth will be less important than maintaining services through the disruption. This situation requires the franchisee to be more of a delivery partner, working closely with Network Rail and others to minimise the impact of the disruption on passengers, and helping ensure on-time and within budget delivery of the investment programme.

Thameslink seemed to fit the bill perfectly. Indeed elsewhere Brown states:

The upcoming Thameslink, Southern, and Great Northern (TSGN) franchise is likely to be most suitable for such a management contract arrangement.

The DfT naturally picked up on this and the NAO report states that:

17 The Department plans to transfer a lower level of risk to the Thameslink franchisee for the next seven years to incentivise the operator to support the programme’s delivery. The Department feels that an arrangement such as a management-style contract, which transfers lower risk to the franchisee, may be appropriate. This is because the new franchisee will have to successfully deliver major changes to its service, caused by the planned infrastructure works and also work closely with the train provider to bring the new trains into service. This will be the first time that the Department has let competitively a management-style contract.

The Department will need to consider:

  • how to incentivise the franchisee to maintain performance for passengers, grow revenue and support the delivery of the programme; and
  • how to set the level and terms of any management fee.

In a management contract the franchisee effectively becomes the agent of the DfT for running the railway according the client’s requirements. For this they are paid a fee which is generally fixed or has only a small variable element and crucially all revenue is passed on to the DfT.

The NAO point out that this would be the first time that the DfT would have let a contract of this style. The implications is that there are a lot of unknowns. It is rather surprising that they do not mention that TfL have a lot of experience in this area and that the DLR, London Overground and Tramlink are all run on this basis – and most people would argue that this appears to work well.

Are the NAO and DfT overlooking something?

So that’s all sorted out then. We have a management style franchise for the enhanced Thameslink franchise for around seven years. That will take us to around 2020/2021 whilst there is a lot of disruption and there are a lot of unknowns. This also neatly gets over the issue of the Thameslink franchise being too big to fail and too big for even a large company to take on because it would carry too much risk.

By 2019 Thameslink should be complete and potential bidders should know exactly what they are getting. The bidding for a conventional franchise can then continue …except… around then, on current plans, Network Rail are planning to do a lot of work at East Croydon and the junctions to the north of the station.

One could not expect the NAO to know, and probably not expect the DfT to tell them, but there are likely to be some extremely disruptive works at East Croydon in the early part of the 2020s. There are no published definitive plans but the signs are it is going to happen. For those familiar with the changes at Reading think of it as half a Reading.

Project completion and life is back to normal – it’s not like that

People should not be surprised at this for two reasons. First of all on projects like Crossrail and Thameslink it is not really a case that the project completes on a certain date and stability comes to the railway. There are always the knock-on ripple effects which are either further opportunities in light of operating experience of the new setup, or minor issues that need to be resolved and did not come to light in the duration of the project.

Secondly, it is always the case with big projects that other work has to be postponed and await its completion. This can be due to projects getting in the way of each other, or the thought that it is too much disruption for the passengers in one go, or simply that it is too expensive to run and finance both projects at the same time.

When will it ever end?

At the moment Network Rail is conducting a review of services from Sussex to London. We don’t know what that outcome will be but if it involves a lot of further disruption it may be that that awarding a conventional Thameslink franchise is going to take rather a long time – even by DfT standards.

So it looks as if the physical aspects of the Thameslink Programme may well turn out fine. Though, to severely paraphrase the alleged quote of the Duke of Wellington, it looks like being a damn close run thing. What now seems less certain is just when, if ever, there will be conventional franchise to run it.

The NAO final report

The NAO have made it clear that this is not the end of the matter and that they will be issuing a later report. Going back to our original analogy in part 1, this report is more like a half-term report when what really counts is the end of year final report.

Refreshingly the NAO appears to be avoiding the trap of defining a load of criteria to judge the project and then find that, by and large, the criteria have been met but the ordinary man in the street can see the project is obviously not a success. Older readers may remember an episode from the original Yes, Minister  series called The Compassionate Society where a new hospital met all the civil service criteria for judging a hospital to be considered successful. The only problem was it didn’t have any patients. We wouldn’t want the analogous situation where the NAO judged the project a success, but overlooked the fact that the new trains weren’t delivered.

With that in mind it is refreshing to read in the summary that accompanies the report that:

The Department has a clear case for investment in the programme: to increase capacity on an already overcrowded route, which it expects to deliver net present benefits of £2.9 billion. It is too early for us to conclude on value for money, which cannot be demonstrated until after 2021 when the new Thameslink service is running. The Department has so far done well to contain the infrastructure costs within the original budget. However, the delays in agreeing the contract to buy new trains mean that delivering value for money from the programme as a whole is at greater risk than we would have expected at this stage.

In other words, when we see trains up and running and the service working as it should do then we can start to decide if the project offers value for money. The clear implication is that until it is up and running properly issues of value for money are irrelevant.

The above statement also gives the feeling that the School of National Audit’s half-term report is not happy with young Master DfT’s progress so far. But, if at the end of term, he completes all his project assignments and does well in the subsequent exam then the “wobbles” that occurred during term time will be overlooked and Master DfT will be given a good grade. All’s well that ends well? – if it does? Maybe.

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There are 61 comments on this article
  1. Paul says:

    The Thameslink order is relatively large, but not unusually so, and to be delivered over say 3.5 years.

    For comparison, SWT’s original order for DC unit vehicles was 665 and the original near simultaneous Central/Silverlink 350s added 120. So that’s getting towards 800, then 68 more run-on 450 vehicles for SWT, and then various 360s for Heathrow Connect, and the Great Eastern.

    Anyway I’m sure someone will have exact ranges of delivery dates, and accurate numbers for the 360 vehicles, but all in all its got to be around 1000 vehicles. What I can’t recall without my books is how long it all took – but I suspect the contract will not over stretch Siemens much if at all…

  2. Graham Feakins says:

    @ Paul – It could well over-stretch Siemens considering the trials and tribulations it is witnessing at present delivering (late) its present orders on the Continent and for Eurostar:

    http://www.railjournal.com/index.php/financial/siemens-profits-fall-as-velaro-delays-hit-results.html

    Per Siemens official website (NB Heavily snipped by me but not re-worded):

    “Siemens AG – Mixed picture in second quarter – Munich, 2013-May-02

    New orders climb 20 percent due to major orders
    Order backlog at €101 billion
    Revenue declines seven percent
    Net income increases to €1 billion
    Earnings per share rise from €1.03 to €1.20
    Free cash flow improves to nearly €1.4 billion
    Challenges at rail systems and offshore grid connection projects
    Focus on rigorous execution of Siemens 2014

    Siemens’ results for the second quarter of fiscal 2013 present a mixed picture. New orders, free cash flow and earnings per share showed substantial improvement. Revenue and Total Sectors profit declined, primarily due to a still difficult market environment. Total Sectors profit was also impacted again by burdens at the company’s high-speed trains business and from offshore grid connection projects in the North Sea. “Results for the second quarter show a mixed picture. While we were able to clearly increase orders, we still have challenges regarding revenue and profit. Even more we’re focusing on the factors that lie in our own hands: we’re rigorously executing our company-wide Siemens 2014 program,” said Siemens President and CEO Peter Löscher.

    In the second quarter of fiscal 2013, which ended on March 31, 2013, new orders increased substantially by 20 percent year-over-year to €21.5 billion due to major orders in the offshore wind power and rail systems businesses. Revenue declined seven percent to €18.0 billion. The book-to-bill ratio in the second quarter was 1.19 while the combined order backlog for all Sectors totalled €101 billion at the end of the quarter.

    The Infrastructure & Cities Sector profited at its Rail Systems Division from two major orders in Austria and Germany. New orders at the Sector climbed 34 percent year-over-year to €5.2 billion, while revenue was down five percent to €4.1 billion.

    Profit

    Charges of €161 million were incurred in connection with delays in the delivery of the Velaro in Germany and the Velaro Eurostar.”

    The DfT announcement might not have come at the right time for Siemens, I feel. As we know, the DfT is not renowned for deep investigation concerning railway matters.

  3. DW down under says:

    @GF. At the high-level business-wide view, yes Siemens has some issues. At the workface level, it is my understanding that there is substantial spare capacity in their plants, even with the Desiro City UK build for TL. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they bid a 4-car version of the Class 700 for the mooted forthcoming Southern tender. The more units they can get sold, the faster they can amortise the development cost.

    By bidding a product type that will be in widespread use on what is currently Southern, they can effectively neutralise the Bombdropper’s (sorry Bombardier’s) current edge on staff maintenance experience and pooled spare parts of the 377 family.

  4. DW down under says:

    @PoP. Perhaps the Anniversary was a prod. I rather feel the NAO’s withering comments and the authority with which they were made, played a larger part. And I have no doubt that DafT were aware of widespread rumblings around the industry (some at senior and authoritative level) of the consequences of prolonging the delay. Somewhere a boot threatened a polished posterior, and some “penetrating oil” was applied to the “sticky bits.” And lo, we have the order finally sealed.

    Given that a “management-style contract” is VERY highly likely to be adopted, and given that TfL have a good deal of expertise in such matters, I wonder to what extent TfL will be drawn in to the process of designing and managing the interim Franchise. It would be consistent with the Mayor’s and TfL’s desire to achieve greater autonomy/control of services predominantly within London, but would of necessity be a joint effort between them and odd bedfellow DafT.

    I join with you in looking forward to NAO’s full-term report.

  5. ngh says:

    I don’t think that delivering the order for 1140 class 700 cars by 2018 would cause a problem for Siemens however the stop gap 100 (+28) is another matter as it would have to be delivered, tested and in service pre May 2015 timetable change – if not some even sooner to allow some 319s to be cascaded to the north West so there are EMUs to run under their new wires.

    This means it would have to be based on an existing model as there is no time for R&D, this points to Siemens or Bombardier as only they have suitable and current UK model capable of being produced.
    Bombardier are currently making 377/6 (26*5car units) with as many for delivery by December as possible with 8*5 car 377/7 due to be built in 2014 and ~700 S Stock LU cars to deliver pre 2016 (different production lines). So Bombardier would probably have plenty of capacity after finishing the 377/7s.

    From Graham’s post Siemens would seem very busy (including more 350/3s and /4s) though they have more production capacity. However they are grappling with major delays on the refreshed Velaro high speed models for DB and Eurostar and other projects so they might not want to take on more work that could delay other projects and incur further penalties wiping out profit on straight purchase deals.

    This also raises a tangential question could Siemens realistically take on building another 600 cars for Crossrail – where initial deliveries would have to start in 2015 and be completed in 2018 at the same time as Thameslink?

  6. Graham Feakins says:

    ngh – I referred on the Crossrail 2 thread tonight to the Southern Railway stakeholder meeting I attended this week. You mention here refreshed trains and that must also be taken into account when considering factory capacity and related factors, e.g. proving trials and related staff requirements. I provide the following information as background information as gathered during the Southern meeting – subject to correction of course.

    Southern are refurbishing their Classes 171, 377 and 455 trains as well as dealing with the new Class 377-6 (DC only trains) and 377-7 (AC + DC trains) and reported as of 18th June 2013 that four new trains are complete, with the 13th unit on the production line. Commissioning is due to start in July, with extensive running on Kent routes.

    For the refurbished stock, 109 Class 377 units have been completed, running at one per week until January 2015.

    Eastleigh is dealing with the Southern 455’s, with 16 units completed and 30 remaining – one every three weeks, to be complete by end of 2014.

    The diesel Class 171 has 4 refurbished units completed with 12 remaining – running at one per week for the 2-cars; the 4-car units will be split into 2-cars to cope – hope to complete by end of April 2014.

    None of this affects Siemens directly (?) but it does go to show the amount of work required simply to maintain the trains to an acceptable standard – and keep them running meanwhile, which is more than can be said of Network Rail who are planning several “big” blockades to ‘delight’ everyone, e.g.:

    Christmas 2013/14 – total blockade at Gatwick – 5 days;
    2013-14 – New Junction to be laid in at Stoats Nest Junction (between Purley and Coulsdon on the Brighton Main Line) – all lines to be closed for 9 days;
    26 December 2013 – Victoria (Southern) closed; and
    London Bridge (Southern) closed over several weekends – including Easter 2014, August Bank Holiday 2014 (nothing for a week) and between Sat. 20th December and Sunday 4th January.

    I take no pleasure in reporting that bit.

  7. john b says:

    “subordinated load facility” – I think this should be ‘loan’, unless rail financing is even more bizarrely arcane than I thought.

    Has it been confirmed that the 25+28 stopgap order will go to tender rather than being treated as another Southern Electrostar run-on order? There was some debate on this when last raised, and nobody produced an authoritative source that it would.

    Assuming it does, the suggestion that it will involve Siemens building extra 700s is obviously crazy – the reason the order exists is that the 700s won’t be ready. Ditto anything that Alstom or Hitachi could get out within the required timeline at an acceptable risk level.

    IOW, the stopgap order will be for 350s or 377s.

  8. Greg Tingey says:

    At the moment Network Rail is conducting a review of services from Sussex to London
    BML2 anyone?
    Or, electification & extension Uckfield-Lewes?
    Plus, of course, a return of direct Dorking ….Arundel – Ford / Arundel – Worthing services NOT via the bloody airport!

    I find that DafT are embracing a “concession” model, whilst not admitting it, most amusing, were it not for the backsliding & “this is temprorary” nonsense & other backside-covering self-justifications. Tiresome.

    The “extra” or “stopgap” order should go to Derby …. one it is an extension-order, effectively … two it gives them a breathing-space … and three it is no longer poltically acceptable to just shut down a Brit manufacturing facility just like that … I THINK that some of the politicians have finally leant that it’s a bad idea?

  9. Castlebar says:

    What’s the current betting on who will get the whole Thameslink/south of England franchise??

  10. minstral says:

    Looking forward to my Christmas commute from Redhill but improvements have to happen and it is better to make a key replacement in one go than loads of closures. Isn’t it about time they built a flyover at Stoats Nest. Taking the Southbound Brighton over the Redhill lines

    Bigger question what are the planned changes at East Croydon in 2021?

  11. Pedantic of Purley says:

    @Mistral
    Bigger question what are the planned changes at East Croydon in 2021?

    Stayed tuned and we will try and cover this and other Brighton Main Line issues.

    @Greg + others.
    BML2 anyone?
    Or, electification & extension Uckfield-Lewes?
    Plus, of course, a return of direct Dorking ….Arundel – Ford / Arundel – Worthing services NOT via the bloody airport!

    Again, we will should be looking at that before too long. At least to the extent that it may be relevant to London. So if you can resist the temptation to discuss that for the moment it would be appreciated.

  12. ngh says:

    Additional to my post above SWT are rumoured to be looking at an additional EMU order (circa 100cars?) for themselves which would presumably go to Siemens (compatibility with existing 350s etc…) and First Scotrail will be looking for some (Siemens compatible) rolling stock for electrification works finished in the next 3 years (and more beyond that).

    The latest 100 + 28 car order going to Bombardier might be matched by an almost equal sized one for Siemens in the short term.

    Then medium term there are potential orders for newly electrified lines in CP5 (FYs 2014-19).
    The North West is currently planned to be getting most of the 319 from Thameslink with the remainder pencilled in for the non-crossrail Greatwestern routes (though franchise bidder may need to order new stock with higher top speed and better-acceleration).
    The South Wales Valleys are assumed to get 315 ex GA when displaced by the new crossrail stock (the case the BCR is built on) but the Welsh assembly is rumoured to want shiny new toys…
    That leaves the MML also looking for electric stock before 2020.

  13. Moosealot says:

    Paragraph 4: to asks ask questions
    Paragraph 5: be relied [upon] to work
    The Brown Report paragraph 5: apostrophe required in “client’s” to indicate possession rather than plurality
    NAO Final Report paragraph 1: latter later report

    There’s more than one pedant in the house :-)

    [Corrected. Thanks. If they are the only errors I would be amazed.  PoP]

  14. ngh says:

    Re john b 02:05AM, 21st June 2013

    “subordinated load facility” – I think this should be ‘loan’, unless rail financing is even more bizarrely arcane than I thought.

    Just think of a “subordinated load facility” as an alternative way to describe a PIXC buster or extra carriages for the passengers who can’t get on the train because it there is no where left to stand :-)

    [Fixed that too. I said I would be amazed if moosealot’s list were the only mistakes.  PoP]

  15. Anonymous says:

    @ngh

    “The South Wales Valleys are assumed to get class 315″

    I wonder if these will be seen as an improvement: even Pacers have toilets! (and they are half a decade younger)

  16. Fandroid says:

    TfL has loads of experience in running management contracts or concessions, but then so does DfT ! The wunderkind Branson’s Virgin West Coast has been a management contract ever since the late lamented Railtrack fouled up the deal on the West Coast Main Line upgrade. If that’s not enough, they must be able to wheel in Directly Operated Railways to oversee the contract. The latter are going to lose a role soon, as they are due to be stripped of the East Coast concession anyway.

    I’m guessing wildly here, but I suspect that Siemens’ Desiro City production is likely to be kept at arms length from the delayed Velaro High-Speed production line(s). They are quite different concepts, and anyway, Siemens does not seem to be short of production facilities.

  17. ngh says:

    Re anon
    02:23PM, 21st June 2013

    @ngh
    “The South Wales Valleys are assumed to get class 315″
    I wonder if these will be seen as an improvement: even Pacers have toilets! (and they are half a decade younger

    Better acceleration / deceleration with a 315 (or any BR vintage EMU) will probably save 90 seconds per stop from the schedule so journey times might drop under an hour hence no need for a toilet (which would have to be a massive disabled one taking up 12 seats worth of space – assuming 3+2 seating).

    Re Fandroid

    I’m guessing wildly here, but I suspect that Siemens’ Desiro City production is likely to be kept at arms length from the delayed Velaro High-Speed production line(s). They are quite different concepts, and anyway, Siemens does not seem to be short of production facilities.

    The production lines will be separate (I believe Bombardier were running up to 5 in derby at one point for comparison) but the personnel working on them won’t be and will move across as the work flows vary on different products. The sub assemblies are likely to have bit more commonality of production equipment and personnel than one might expect. (Would they really have separate spray painting facilities for each production line?) There will also be a limit on the running time available on the test track to accumulate the pre acceptance mileage. They may have X assembly lines but they probably won’t be able to run all of them at 100%.

  18. Fandroid says:

    Throwing laziness to one side for a moment, the Siemens Rail Systems website tells me that the Krefeld site manages all ‘High speed and Commuter Rail’ business. Vienna does trams and metros and Munich does locos. So does Siemens regard the Desiro City as a ‘commuter’ or a ‘metro’ product?

    The odd thing is that I cannot find a Siemens press release for the Thameslink contract financial close. Most companies would have broadcast it load and clear. Earlier press releases on Thameslink (2 years ago) have emphasised the UK jobs that would be created – 2000 in the supply chain as a whole, including 300 at Hebburn.

  19. Paul says:

    Fandroid @ 02:25

    Slight correction…

    Yes, Virgin west coast spent a long period under a management contract from 2002, but it ceased in about 2007 and went back to a normal franchise setup. The latest deal is not quite the same, as it results more from DfT incompetence, and of course is nothing to do with earlier WCML upgrade issues.

  20. ngh says:

    Re Fandroid 09:48PM, 21st June 2013

    Desiro = Commuter product –> Krefeld

    Desiro and Velaro are both EMUs at the end of the day.

    We are on day 7 of the 10 day statutory pause (aka “Alcatel mandatory standstill period” to allow objections) before it comes official so expect to see a press release on Monday?

  21. Greg Tingey says:

    Fandroid & others
    Err …. shouldn’t: The wunderkind Branson’s Virgin West Coast .. actually read something like: .. the subsidy-junkie, Branson, sucking up the taxpayers’ money & if you think that’s ott, I strongly suggest that you read the linked article, showing just how Branson is using (some would say seriously mis-using) our monies …

  22. lmm says:

    GT I’m pretty sure “wunderkind” was used ironically. If the DfT offers a license to print money are we supposed to blame Branson for accepting it? And let’s not forget how the taxpayer ripped Branson off in the 90s – Virgin paid a big premium for the government to assume the risk on the WCML upgrade. Then when it fails Railtrack declares bankruptcy, DfT pays off the shareholders and Branson is left carrying the can. What goes around comes around.

  23. Snowy says:

    & took away the crosscountry francise from him for his efforts!

  24. Anonymous says:

    Re Graham Feakins

    “None of this affects Siemens directly (?) but it does go to show the amount of work required simply to maintain the trains to an acceptable standard – and keep them running meanwhile, which is more than can be said of Network Rail who are planning several “big” blockades to ‘delight’ everyone, e.g.”

    I can assure you Network Rail aren’t just doing this for fun. As someone involved with maintenance the BML I can confirm pretty much all key junctions are life expired and require complete renewal (that’s not just the rails, we are talking all the sleepers and the underlying ballast formation that needs work). You cannot do this overnight, it needs a good few days to do a proper job (And before anyone cites lack of maintenance, its simply what 25 years of pounding by heavy traffic does this regardless of the maintenance regime in place).

    In actual fact what NR are doing is using the time proactively with several activities taking place on the BML all at once which will hopefully minimise the amount of times the service is disrupted overall. You have correctly identified the work at Stoats nest where the whole junction will be renewed and the work at Victoria, but there is also the little mater that NR will also be remodeling the track layout and installing a new interlocking at Gatwick Airport too. Work is also scheduled to be taking place at Norwood Junction where I believe Tennison Road Bridge is being renewed.

    As for the London Bridge Blockades, as I am sure you are aware from these forums the work cannot be done solely overnight and also cannot be done by keeping all facilities intact. Lots of work has gone into minimising the disruptive closures but when you start doing things like messing about with interlockings it is quite simply unsafe to be running trains while the work is being progressed. While places like London Bridge and Victoria might seem small in distance terms the sheer number of points signals and routes involved means extensive closures are unavoidable.

  25. Mikey C says:

    Unlike the 450s, the Class 444s were built in Austria, so I presume they still have the capability to built normal EMUs there?

  26. Graham Feakins says:

    Anonymous 02:16PM, 22nd June – Your comment well taken; I did not mean to be too derogatory but you can understand the passenger frustration caused by the work – that 9-day interruption is ‘rather a lot’ for a busy main line, especially if there are no alternative routes by rail. I do not recall such lengthy periods of closure at the London Bridge throat to the terminating platforms when the complete track layout was rebuilt back in 1975, or indeed when Windmill Junction complex was completely remodelled or at the Brighton station end.

    I’ll remind myself by looking at this “Operation London Bridge” film:

    https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B9irIhwYmRqxTHBMa0RrX3Q2NE0/edit?pli=1

    Good luck with the work. I am reminded of my boyhood model railway – in all the years I had it, I was constantly working on it and it only worked perfectly for just one week before further repairs were needed!

  27. Pedantic of Purley says:

    @Graham Feakins

    Ah. Those were the days. Resignal in a weekend. In fact do it all on a Sunday when the railway was quiet. Open on Monday with the work done – except the testing bit which they didn’t bother with.

    I think any comparison between now and any time before 1986 when the Clapham Junction Train Crash happened is meaningless.

    Of course if you don’t want it done safely I am sure Network Rail could do it in a couple of days.

  28. Graham Feakins says:

    But they did test PoP – see that film. There’s a difference between that and double-checking ASAP (and routine inspection) when otherwise undetected faults are more likely to be realised during live running of the railway, which might have avoided Clapham.

    We’ve seen other examples where you can shut the railway for an eternity if you want but only when the trains started running did the major DC earthing problems in the Farringdon area manifest themselves.

  29. Fandroid says:

    We have discussed the various challenges to the Thameslink project over and over. There is now a debate on the long closures that Network Rail has scheduled.

    Anonymous correctly explains that renewals have to be faced, even when ongoing maintenance is excellent. However, it does make me wonder (as I have done before) whether the UK’s habitual ‘sweating the assets’ to the limit gives us passengers (and NR renewals planners) a much bigger headache than is appropriate. There seems to be an assumption that cramming every last train into every last bit of infrastructure is a ‘good thing’ . I know there’s a bit of slack for for day to day running, but is there any at all for renewals, which every engineer knows are an inevitable part of life on the railway?

    The alternative is not cheap. To maintain the same daily level of service as now (plus minimal interruptions during renewals), it would be necessary to invest more money at the start. It’s possible to envisage this, but would the habitual ‘asset-sweaters’ be able to keep their hands off the extra infrastructure when more capacity is needed?

  30. Greg Tingey says:

    Blockades are nothing new …
    Jackson (“London’s Termini”) records … “required complete closure of Cannon St station from 15.00 Saturday 5th June until 04.00 Monday 28th June, 1926″
    For remodelling & ex-SER-lines electrification &, of course, re-signalling.

  31. ngh says:

    Re Fandroid 10:54AM, 23rd June 2013

    The Swiss can seemingly do that in most instances but I’m not sure it would ever transfer that mentality to the UK.
    [They value reliability – Not seen that in many infrastructure scheme BCRs calculations in the UK!]*

    There is a general trend on recent projects has been to invest more up front so that major maintenance is cheaper, easier, quicker. The problem is the many places where major maintenance is need and making maintenance cheaper, easier, quicker was not designed in (especially in eras when labour was cheaper and /or less skilled).

    *linking that to current UK schemes Thameslink and Crossrail – there aren’t any public calculations on how running them at frequencies above 24tph might produce a greater “benefit” most to the time but dis-benefit in greater unreliability and disruption a small fraction of the time.

  32. stimarco says:

    @Graham Feakins:

    That link to the “Operation London Bridge” is interesting in showing how labour-intensive the system was at the time. This is an issue many don’t appreciate: the rail networks of the world were, in the main, designed and built at a time when labour was dirt cheap. We’re paying the price for that labour-intensive design philosophy today.

    (It’s also one of the answers to that old question: “How come commuter lines and urban metros run at a loss?” Because, back when they were built, all those platform and booking staff, maintenance people and their like were paid relatively little money. Today, they’re a much larger proportion of the system’s running costs.)

    Little wonder NR and their peers have been so into automating as much as they can.

  33. Malcolm says:

    Yes, labour was dirt cheap. A slightly more “scientific” way of looking at it is that the ratio of salaries of railway passengers to wages of railway workers was much greater. London commuters were mostly office workers, and even the lowliest would have been paid twice the typical railway worker salary. Probably not the case today. (Although the gap is starting to widen again under a succestion of conservtive governments of both parties).

  34. stimarco says:

    @Malcolm:

    “London commuters were mostly office workers, and even the lowliest would have been paid twice the typical railway worker salary.”

    What? Even into the early 1970s? That seems a bit of a stretch. Engineers were paid reasonably well by then. Even in the linked “Operation London Bridge” video, you can clearly see quite a few engineers getting their hands (and suits!) nice and filthy.

  35. Castlebar says:

    @Malcolm:

    “London commuters were mostly office workers, and even the lowliest would have been paid twice the typical railway worker salary.”

    Not only is the above wildly inaccurate, when you strip out the cost of the London commuters’ season ticket, paid for out of already taxed income, whilst the railway workers travelled for free (a fact that you seem to have ignored), l don’t think there was much if any difference. In fact, the cost of travel took such a large bite out of nett income that many lower grade office workers were worse off than railway staff.

  36. Malcolm says:

    Yes, I probably was wildly inaccurate – sorry for any confusion caused. I was not really referring to the 1970s – more referring to how commuter services used to be profitable for railways. I think I was thinking more of the typical wages and salaries over the period 1850-1950, but I did not make this clear.

    I ignored the fact that railway workers travelled for free because it was not relevant to my point. My point was more that once upon a time it made financial sense to employ 10,000 railway workers to carry 100,000 office workers to work (or whatever the figures are – mine are very arbitrary guesses) – whereas it would not do so today.

    I also was not really thinking of the (relatively small number of) engineers, stationmasters and so on, rather to the unseen hordes of cleaners, track workers, porters, labourers, gatesmen, booking lads and other wielders of the shovel and broom.

    Even with all the above stipulations, I may still be talking rubbish. If so, please ignore me.

  37. Graham Feakins says:

    @ stimarco 01:49PM, 25th June – “That link to the “Operation London Bridge” is interesting in showing how labour-intensive the system was at the time.”

    And it often still is, as seen here during Thameslink work:

    http://www.therailengineer.com/2012/03/13/thameslinks-canal-tunnels/

  38. MikeP says:

    @Graham – not so sure your linked article does support the idea that today’s maintenance and renewals are labour-intensive – “Diamond wire cutting is a specialist activity requiring few personnel but a controlled environment.”

    And, given what was being done, the photo doesn’t show that many people on-site either.

    As an aside, modern junctions are most impressive. The new pointwork on the Up fast lines through St. Johns, after the Tanners’ Hill flydown dualling, is next to unnoticeable as your travel over it. Maybe once it’s settled after a few years….

  39. Anonymous says:

    There is an article on the entire Canal Tunnels project in this weeks “RAIL” magazine. It would seem that the Civil Engineering work at the St Pancras end is more or less done, but there is a lot more to do at the Belle Isle (GN main line) end, including relocating the existing North London Incline junction and demolishing a retaining wall. – Not to mention connecting together two curently quite independant signalling systems.

    How about calling the new connection “Wilberforce Junction” after Belle Isle’s most famous (fictional) resident?

    http://www.martinunderwood.f9.co.uk/Ladykillers/

  40. Anonymous says:

    BBC now reporting that the train deal with Siemens is now signed and sealed.

  41. Walthamstow Writer says:

    DfT announcement on Siemens contract for Thameslink Trains.

    https://www.gov.uk/government/news/siemens-thameslink-deal-to-create-up-to-2000-new-jobs

    Piccie showing where various bits of the Desiro City will be built / supplied from.

    https://twitter.com/transportb/status/350260737282826240/photo/1

  42. Graham H says:

    I apologise in advance for not posting the comments below earlier, having been in a part of the UK so remote that broadband doesn’t reach it…

    @stimarco – actually, I very much doubt if any commuter services were truly profitable. The reason they have seemed so in the past has been because the railway system has not until very recently been capitalised in the conventional way; the capital cost of building the system has been steadily written off since Victorian times (think of all those branchline companies bought out by the main line operators for 5/- in the pound). With cheap capital costs, labour costs loomed much larger as a consequence. That has changed with privatisation and the recapitalisation of the industry: now over 1/3 of NR’s costs are the cost of capital – and growing. Commuter routes have come out of this quite badly because they (a) require proportionately a lot of assets, especially track, and (b) some of the assets tend to be used for relatively few hours a day.

    A propos the TLK stock, I don’t think anyone would claim that Siemens can’t build 1100 vehicles in the time available despite the extreme delay in sorting out the contract – all that means is – probably – running an additional assembly line. What is tricky is the systems integration issue, the kit being equipped with TPWS, ETCS and ATO. No one knows how these will interact with each other or collectively with NR’s existing signalling and then there are the onboard train management systems – the Velaro precedent is not encouraging. Resolving all these matters – preferably before series production begins – will take time.

  43. stimarco says:

    “actually, I very much doubt if any commuter services were truly profitable. “
    If memory serves, the profit problems only really kicked in when electric trams appeared on the scene. The Metropolitan and Metropolitan District Railways did rather well. As did the early Tubes, for a while.

    The SER and LC&DR were the classic poster boys of how not to run a railway (and their cut-price legacy lives on today), but they’re hardly the norm. However, above the Thames, most of London’s commuter urban commuter services are provided by a dedicated, segregated system that doesn’t also have to contend with freight and long-distance expresses. Given the sheer number of users it sees, it’s quite a feat that it doesn’t manage to pay its own way. The

    “[Capital costs…]”

    If traditional rail-based solutions cannot make a profit providing commuter services to a city with well over eight million people, and there’s no reliable method for measuring its value to the wide economy instead, it could be argued that there’s little benefit in building more of it: it’ll only get more and more expensive unless some radical automation technology is invented to correct its cost problems.

    There is, in fact, at least one urban metro in the world today that really, genuinely, does make a proper profit every year: the Tokyo-Haneda (straddle-beam) monorail system. (And it’s not the only such system that does so either.) A modular guideway system on a continuous bridge structure requires a fraction of the capex of a traditional rail-based line, not only to build, but to maintain and extend as well.

    If the problem with our rail network is that its ageing technology is simply no longer cost-effective, should we really be insisting on building even more of it?

    I think this really boils down to a very simple question: “What are railways for? I’d argue that, for long distances, rail can, and does, pay for itself. Inter-City, BR’s old brand, actually turned a profit back in the dark days of the 1980s and early ’90s.

    However, the more we try to make a railway behave like a tram or bus, with shorter distances and ever more stops, the lower the profit. There’s a sweet spot on a graph somewhere that will show at what point a railway ceases to be profitable. That spot is rising slowly thanks to inflation, interest rates, parts and labour costs and other factors. Which is why a route proposal that might have had legs in the past might be sitting in a metaphorical wheelchair today.

    Any railway line proposal that fails to beat that “sweet spot” should not be built. Ever. Better technologies exist, and have done for generations.

    In some cases, it might be a light railway. For others, dedicated busways might be the ideal solution. For yet others, a suspended or straddled guideway. And so on.

    We need to start picking the right tools—and technologies—for the job, instead of answering every challenge with the hammer of every rail fan: “let’s build yet another railway!”

  44. stimarco says:

    [Note to self: try proofreading occasionally. Looks like I completely forgot to go back to the earlier section…]

    The paragraph above the “capital costs” bit ends with a lone, trailing “The”. Here’s the rest of it…

    The fact that south London’s commuter network doesn’t pay its own way is no great shock. It never made much of a profit even when built. It was, as usual, the freight services and longer-distance passenger services that made the money—and even then, Kent wasn’t on the way to anywhere, so “long distance” is used very loosely here.

    When the electric tram came along, the SER and LC&DR couldn’t close stations and routes fast enough. As early as 1917, the Greenwich Park branch was closed; the Crystal Palace High Level branch had also been closed before Dr. Beeching started sharpening his axe…

    The Tube network, on the other hand, used to make a profit for a while, but the point-of-use (“POU”) profit metric has been replaced over the years with the Benefit:Cost Ratio (“BCR”) instead, which measures not just the money made from ticket sales, but also the wider economic benefits to the region provided by the service. Rather than seeing it as a service only of benefit to its direct customers, the current mode of thought is to see transport infrastructure as akin to water or electrical infrastructure: that maze of pipes and wires in your office building doesn’t actually make a profit as such, but without them, the office building would be of no use to anyone whatsoever. Urban metros are, therefore, increasingly being seen as part of the cost of doing business. Which is why TfL and the GLA are increasingly looking to local and regional levies to help funding mass transit projects.

    Now, while this approach is an improvement over the traditional POU, it doesn’t alter the fact that London is saddled with an expansive urban rail network that cannot scrape anything close to a profit despite having such a massive captive market. This is a major issue. The bigger that network becomes, the greater its cost burden on the regional economy. We need to be bloody certain this won’t become a financial money pit like the NHS. If its costs, as a percentage of Greater London’s economic output rise with each new addition, there will come a point where it becomes a drain on the economy rather than a boost.

    And now, back to your originally scheduled post.

  45. Greg Tingey says:

    sitmarco
    Get your hiostory right, as well as your economics.
    Greenwich park never went anywhere & even so didn’t cloe until WWI.
    Xtal Palace HL did very well … until the palace burnt down … after which it was pointless.

    Oh, and a continuous bridge is cheaper to build & maintain than track laid at (approximately ground-level is it?
    Don’t believe you!

  46. Anon at 0857 againn says:

    Stimarco

    “When the electric tram came along, the SER and LC&DR couldn’t close stations and routes fast enough.”

    Absolutely – they closed all of one short branch, over 10 years after the arrival of electric trams.

    Hmm….

    And there isn’t an urban network in the world that makes a profit: places like Hong Kong appear do so only because they are essentially property developers with railway attached.

    The Haneda line making a profit means little in itself – so does the urban funicular in Wellington (NZ), so cable haulage should be the model to follow? Perhaps not…

  47. JamesBass says:

    @stimarco

    I take your point about choosing the appropriate technology for new or upgraded lines to get the best BCR and as close as possible to an actual operating profit. I’d like to challenge you on the nature of public transport and your analogy with the NHS. For all its imperfections, we must remember that British governments spend less on health care than US and many Continental European governments do- and US citizens have to pay thousands and thousands for health insurance on top of what they’ve already paid through their taxes.

    Whilst, to me, it is clear that there is no case for steel mills or airlines to be owned and run by the state, as they can exist very well within a free market economy, activities like health, education, water, broadband, gas & electricity distribution and indeed public transport, are essential for the functioning of society and industry. They are natural monopolies. The state needs to be involved closely in these infrastructure activities as public interest will not be served well by removing democratic accountability and leaving it entirely to free market economics.

    What I’m really saying is that you cannot just judge public transport (or many other infrastructural and essential public service activities like health or education) on profit. Like it or not, we have the deep tube. It is imperfect, but schemes like widening or conversion to an entirely different technology are just not feasible due to the costs of the actual work and the costs to society and industry of having the lines closed for months or years to enable the work to take place.

    For entirely new lines, it is well worth investigating technologies not used before, but there is also a clear case for using a technology already in use. If you were to build a new local scale transport scheme in Kingston or Bromley for example, extending Tramlink offers opportunities to share facilities and procurement and so reduce costs. I said this to you on a thread a fair while ago now, but we already have quite a number of technologies in use in London and the wider UK- introducing another technology does entail risks and extra costs. There are only so many technology solutions that a public transport network can sustain. In the UK at least a rail engineer can go from working on London Overground to Merseyrail to the Tube without having to retrain virtually from scratch like they would to work on the Cable Car or a theoretical monorail or suspended metro. We have a legacy of infrastructure and it makes sense to work with it rather than fighting against it.

  48. timbeau says:

    @stimrco
    “south London’s commuter network….. It was, as usual, the freight services and longer-distance passenger services that made the money—and even then, Kent wasn’t on the way to anywhere”

    On the contrary, the South Eastern Railway’s original raison d’etre was to connect London with the Channel Ports

    To paraphrase the old headline, only when there was fog in the Channel was the Continent cut off.

  49. DW down under says:

    @ Stimarco. You’ve raised this modular elevated transit technology (aka monorail) yet again. Yet again, when will you tell us how the system can be made conformant to UK regulations?

    @PoP. Perhaps posting about modular elevated technologies has become as repetitive and “fantasy land” as other topics which have had sufficient airing??

  50. Pedantic of Purley says:

    Perhaps posting about modular elevated technologies has become as repetitive and “fantasy land” as other topics which have had sufficient airing??

    I tend to agree and was thinking about this even before reading your post. This is partly on the basis of even-handedness but mainly for the reason that I neither see the issue being relevant to the subject posted nor do I see anything of value being added by the comments which are basically repetitions of earlier comments – possibly slightly rephrased.

    I do not think any further comments about monorails are going to change people’s attitude towards them. And, rightly or wrongly, I also cannot envisage them forming a serious part of London’s transport strategy in the next few decades. So I will look carefully at any future comment that mentions monorails and consider what action to take for that particular comment.

  51. Mark Townend says:

    @JamesBass, 12:50AM, 30th June 2013

    I don’t think workforce skills are a significant barrier to operating various fixed guideway technologies alongside each other, but flexible development of through routes between adjacent systems to evolve the network would be impossible if their track systems were incompatible. Hard categorisations between rail based systems can be unhelpful, as European experience has demonstrated that suitably designed tram-train vehicles can run just as happily on new ‘semi-segregated’ and street track as amongst ‘heavy’ rail traffic on older routes. That technique, clearly not always suitable for the busiest sections of the suburban main lines, might be capable of squeezing some useful extra utility from existing corridors, and provide cost effective means to extend some local lines from poorly sited stations to centres of activity.

  52. peezedtee says:

    Do people in cities anywhere else in Europe obsess about local public transport not making a profit? Do any such systems in fact to do so? I rather doubt it. Surely the purpose of local public transport is not to make a profit but to provide a service that is essential for a city to function. If there isn’t enough money to run it properly, put the taxes up.

  53. Graham H says:

    @stimarco – the tubes did not make a profit at the outset: they paid a dividend, which is not at all the same thing. The dividend is paid from cash that exists within the business; profit is the cash left over after paying for, amongst other things, depreciation and renewals of assets. Until fairly recently, it was entirely possible to use the cash for dividends which – as we now think – should have been set aside for renewing the assets; indeed, in Victorian times, cash received from a rights issue was often (and dishonestly) used to pay dividends rather than for investing in assets. Mr Yerkes admitted that he sailed very close to the wind when he described his MO as being to buy some junk, fix it up, and sell it on. The Edwardian period seems to have had a great deal of cash looking for investment opportunities and many businesses, not just the tube, were set up without proper sums being set aside for keeping the business going long term – company tramways were another example, the American Interurban industry another. When the first generation of assets wore out, the cash wasn’t there to replace them.

    Even considering the railways that paid dividends rather than profits over the past century or so, there have been very few that beat, say, government bonds. The Met was “a good 5% railway” (but it had large property assets), and the Rhymney and Taff vale which were basically coal conveyors. After the grouping, the big four bumped along paying dividends that today we would sneer at, unless they were matched by big capital growth – hardly the case with the big four.

    The numbers of rail passenger enterprises that make profits as we now define them, are very few – the MTR (as pointed out, really a property business with a funny basement), the Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn (which has special geographic privileges, and Eesti Raudtee, which is basically an oil pipeline on wheels with a tiny passenger service attached. [I am sure people can think of one or two others, but there aren’t that many].

    To pick up James Bass’ point, most infrastructure-based enterprises are natural local monopolies and this applies a fortiori to rail – it is simply not worth investing in competing infrastructure. Whether they should be kept within the public sector or regulated is, however, a different issue; the test is usually whether there is any public interest – for example continuity of supply (commuter rail) or geographical coverage (mail). Even that archpriest of capitalism, Adam Smith believed that roads should be publicly provided.

    In my last office, we had a monorail box. Anyone mentioning the M word put in a fiver for the Xmas party. The serious objection to any of these “innovative” technologies is that they are “closed”, ie tied to a single manufacturer. Once that manufacturer decides not to support them any more you are rapidly approaching the end of a short, heavily polluted waterway without any means of propulsion. Just ask the Mayor of Caen, who was persuaded to buy a guided monorail trolleybus instead of a conventional tramway…

  54. stimarco says:

    @PoP, et al:

    “And, rightly or wrongly, I also cannot envisage them forming a serious part of London’s transport strategy in the next few decades.”

    I wasn’t advocating them. I was merely pointing out that one of the most common criticisms of London’s commuter networks—that they have basically never made a profit—isn’t true of all commuter networks. There is a very clear correlation between the base technology used and how much a network built around that technology costs to build, operate and maintain. The example I cited does make a profit—and precisely because of its much lower capital and ongoing costs. That it was a form of “monorail” (which, as I’ve pointed out, is not only inaccurate, but also omits its key advantage: its modular construction), is beside the point.

    I was pointing out that perhaps, just perhaps, the future of London’s commuter transport network does not lie in building yet more of the same old same old when that technology clearly isn’t fit for purpose. It costs a mint to build, and quite a lot more money than other technologies to both operate and maintain.

    Bear in mind that both CR1 and “Thameslink 2000″ are getting on for two decades late. How long will CR2 take to actually get to the shovels-ready state? What about CR3? And how much are they going to cost, not just to build, but to keep them operating over their entire lifetimes? Is this really the best solution for London’s needs?

    Now, do I think London will end up looking like an establishing shot from “The Jetsons” or 1950s visions of “The City of Tomorrow”? No: when it comes to infrastructure and property development, the UK is one of the most conservative bloody countries I’ve ever lived in, slave to its NIMBYs and BANANAs. It has repeatedly failed at proper, long term, forward planning and decent infrastructure design. Judging by current attitudes towards science and technology in the UK, I won’t be the least bit surprised if the entire country eventually becomes a gigantic version of the Beamish Museum.

    [Deleted section due to regurgitation of stuff said many times before.  PoP]

    There’s one truism from the IT world that applies to all technology: nobody gives a toss how the magic is done, all they care about is that it does the job they’re paying it to do. To a passenger, it makes no difference at all if the tram they’re sitting in is sitting on a pair of tracks 1435 mm. apart, or suspended from above by rainbow-powered flying unicorns, as long as it gets them where they want to go, (for a reasonable price).

    No, I am not a rail fan. But I am also not a “monorail fan”. I’m a fan of engineering—from construction to software (I’ve worked in both). It’s the puzzle-solving element that appeals to me. The design of networks, of user interfaces and interactive experiences.

    As an engineer, I am fanatic about only one thing: using the right tool for the job.

    [@Stimarco: You are really pushing your luck. This is definitely the last of the comments on the subject that won’t get deleted in its entirety.  PoP]

  55. Greg Tingey says:

    sitmarco
    [Totally unnecessary impolite comment removed (and you were lucky I didn’t just do the easier thing and delete the whole comment).  PoP]

    The great advantage of (1435mm) rail transit is its’ inter-availability.
    Tubes (narrow) & tubes (SS) & heavy rail on the same tracks, evn if only ofr short diatnces + trams as well, if you are sensible (as the Germans are) … and there’s all this ready-made kit & experience available…..
    Any new adavnce must be really huge or there is neither economic or engineering point to it, is ther?

  56. Anonymous says:

    Modular construction was used for many parts of the initial DLR, notably station buildings, which helped to keep the initial price down. However, the one-size-fits-all philosophy tends to break down very quickly, as additions get tied down by the technology prevalent when the original network was built. Either the existing network has to be rebuilt to the new standard (see the City & S London in the 1920s), or you are stuck with mixed technology (compromise height platforms on the Uxbridge branch, different signalling systems on the 4-track section between Finchley Road and Wembley Park, Dellner vs scharfenberg couplings on NR.
    The saga of Effingham Junction also shows another danger of the modular approach, where planning consent was refused for replacing the dilapidated wooden buildings with NR’s modular type, as being out of keeping with the locality .

  57. ngh says:

    Have been away for few days but noticed that Siemens pulled out of the Crossrail rolling stock bid on Friday afternoon but that there hadn’t been any comment on LR (after a quick search, so I may be wrong) so thought best to put it here as this was where it was last discussed.
    In one of my posts above
    http://www.londonreconnections.com/2013/thameslink-and-the-nao-part-3-alls-well-that-ends-well/#comment-103333

    I commented:

    I don’t think that delivering the order for 1140 class 700 cars by 2018 would cause a problem for Siemens however the stop gap 100 (+28) is another matter as it would have to be delivered, tested and in service pre May 2015 timetable change – if not some even sooner to allow some 319s to be cascaded to the north West so there are EMUs to run under their new wires.

    This means it would have to be based on an existing model as there is no time for R&D, this points to Siemens or Bombardier as only they have suitable and current UK model capable of being produced.
    Bombardier are currently making 377/6 (26*5car units) with as many for delivery by December as possible with 8*5 car 377/7 due to be built in 2014 and ~700 S Stock LU cars to deliver pre 2016 (different production lines). So Bombardier would probably have plenty of capacity after finishing the 377/7s.

    From Graham’s post Siemens would seem very busy (including more 350/3s and /4s) though they have more production capacity. However they are grappling with major delays on the refreshed Velaro high speed models for DB and Eurostar and other projects so they might not want to take on more work that could delay other projects and incur further penalties wiping out profit on straight purchase deals.

    This also raises a tangential question could Siemens realistically take on building another 600 cars for Crossrail – where initial deliveries would have to start in 2015 and be completed in 2018 at the same time as Thameslink?

    The last bit provoked a bit of discussion and now a few weeks later…
    From the Siemens press release in the BBC article:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-23199082

    “This is a strategic decision that has been taken based on current business activity levels. Crossrail is a very large project and, since first undertaking our initial assessment of capacity and deliverability, Siemens has won multiple additional orders,” the company said in a statement.
    “To pursue another project of this scale could impact our ability to deliver our current customer commitments.”

    This leaves Bombardier, CAF (Spain) and Hitachi on the shortlist.

  58. Anonymous says:

    It was repoted on Friday in comments added to part 2
    http://www.londonreconnections.com/2013/thameslink-and-the-national-audit-office-part-2/

    but the recent surge in the volume of comments (arguments) makes it very difficult to find any comment more than a few hours old

  59. Arkady says:

    Southern are definitely getting more trains in the short term due to the Siemens delay: http://railnews.mobi/news/2013/07/30-new-order-is-signed-for.html

  60. Littlejohn says:

    @ Arkady. According to Global Rail News http://www.globalrailnews.com/2013/07/30/contracts-signed-for-southern-electrostar-order/. the order also includes an option for additional 140 vehicles.

  61. Walthamstow Writer says:

    It has been announced that a mock up of the Siemens Class 700 Thameslink train will be on show at the Excel on the 29th January from 1400 to 2000. Entry is free.

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