Around 300 of the 2,000 new jobs will be created in Tyne & Wear, as the Consortium will 'build, own, finance and maintain' the trains. Others will be at two maintenance depots, which are likely to be built at Hornsea (Haringey) and Three Bridges (nr Crawley).
It's a good news story, not least because it confirms that the government is willing to put its money where its mouth is and commit to supplying the required number of carriages needed to meet the much-vaunted benefits of Thameslink. But, scratch away the surface and this £1.5bn announcement is not as rosy as it could be.
While 2,000 new jobs should not be scorned, we understand the carriages will only be assembled at the German manufacturing plant in Tyne & Wear; most of the raw materials will not be sourced here. Consequently, fewer people are needed. The DfT could have awarded the £1.5bn contract to Bombardier, who is already *building* trains here in the UK, at a location that many would consider the home of the train manufacture: Derby. Not to be dismissive of those who will play a part in the Thameslink fleet's construction, Litchfield Lane in Derby is the last remaining train construction plant in Britain and employs vast numbers of skilled train builders.
For much of this year Bombardier has been turning out new trains faster than has ever been recorded in its 160-year history, with massive orders for TfL (Underground: 2009 Stock and S-Stock; Overground: Class 378 Electrostars; NXEA: Class 379 Electrostars; and Class 172s for London Midland and Chiltern). On average 100 carriages per month are being produced. Thameslink's 1,200 carriages would take Bombardier a little over a year to build.
We British taxpayers delegate to government how best to spend our taxes, though this is a decision that reaps very little benefit to the country as a whole. Once the bulk of TfL's orders have been completed, production in Derby will wind down as nothing on the same scale is forthcoming - not now the Thameslink order has been awarded to the Siemens/XL Trains consortium.
In the short term, we concede that Siemens must have made the better offer, ensuring taxpayers' hard-earned cash goes further, but in the long term if more skilled train builders are made redundant at Derby (c3,000 currently employed at Litchfield Lane) than are employed afresh in Hebburn (300 planned), the consequences could be far-reaching and costly.