14 April 2014
RAIL UNION RMT today slammed the continuing fallout from the Thameslink fleet replacement shambles as it emerged that only two passenger trains will be available to start Northern Rail’s much-needed electrification of Liverpool to Manchester rail services in December due to a log-jam of electric units that were supposed to be cascaded through the country but which have been stalled by years of delays to the Thameslink contract.
Rail chiefs have confirmed today that passengers will have to wait until next year for the remaining 12 Class 319 electric train units from First Capital Connect’s Thameslink operation to be brought out onto Northern Rail services as a direct result of the shambolic tendering process which saw Siemens win the fleet replacement deal over Bombardier in Derby.
Assuming there are no further hold ups the 30 year old Thameslink Class 319 electric trains will slowly be released for use by Northern Rail many months behind schedule and will gradually be deployed on the former Liverpool & Manchester Railway from Lime Street via Rainhill and Newton-le-Willows.
The aging four coach Thameslink electric 319 train units will replace the current two coach diesels and will be blown over in the Northern Rail livery with little or no extra refurbishment or upgrading. The existing Thameslink fleet has been the subject of constant complaints from First Capital Connect passengers over its condition and reliability.
Mick Cash, RMT Acting General Secretary, said:
“The Thameslink fleet shambles rolls on. RMT always said that this fiasco would continue to haunt this rotten Government and we have been proved right as they face up to the embarrassment of only having two aging units to start on the much-trumpeted and much-needed electrified Liverpool to Manchester service.
“This chaos could have been avoided if the Thameslink fleet job had gone to Bombardier from the off rather than allowing the EU to dictate the terms of the UK’s rolling stock replacement programme. Those responsible for this shambles should be hanging their heads in shame and it goes right to the heart of everything that is wrong with Britain’s fragmented and privatised railways. There must be no repeat of this nonsense ever again.”