The lion's share of the investment - £6 billion - will go to the completion of the much-delayed Thameslink project to double the capacity of this north-south commuter link across London. This will include the acquisition of 1200 emu cars from either Bombardier or Siemens - a preferred bidder will be announced in Spring 2011. However, the reconstruction of London Bridge station, a key element of the Thameslink scheme, will take longer than envisaged and will not be completed until 2018.
Hammond also confirmed that two electrification schemes worth £900 million will go-ahead involving lines linking Manchester, Liverpool, Preston and Blackpool, and from London Paddington to Reading, Didcot, Oxford and Newbury. However, a decision on whether to proceed with plans to electrify the Great Western Main Line beyond Didcot to Bristol, Cardiff and Swansea, has been postponed until early next year.
Approval of the new trains for Thameslink will allow existing emus on the route to be used on the networks being electrified which in turn will release dmus for use elsewhere. The government also says a further 650 new coaches will have been supplied between May this year and March 2014.
The government has also postponed a decision until early next year on the controversial Intercity Express Programme (IEP). The Agility Trains consortium of Hitachi, John Laing and Barclays Bank was selected in February 2009 as the preferred bidder to supply up to 1400 inter-city coaches worth up to £7.5 billion.
Hammond confirmed that the government is now looking at two options. One is a revised and cheaper version of the Agility Trains proposal comprising a mixture of electric and electro-diesel trains. The other would consist of a fleet of electric trains plus some diesel locomotives to haul the trains to destinations beyond the electrified network.
"The commitment to ensuring through journeys is good as it means passengers won't have to change trains," says the Association of Train Operating Companies (Atoc) in response to the IEP announcement. "This project, started five years ago under the previous government, has already cost more than £20 million in consultancy fees and is yet to produce a single carriage."blackfriars_mg_8878.jpg