Public Accounts Committee MPs report says Department of Transport's Thameslink improvements will not be seen until 2020s
MPs have poured scorn on the length of time it has taken to upgrade Thameslink, the cross-London railway line which travels from St Albans to Luton via the Wimbledon loop.
The Department of Transport's project to improve the service by 2018 has included upgrading its infrastructure and bringing in a new franchise to run the line with a £1.6bn Private Finance Initiative (PFI) contract.
But the House of Commons public accounts committee today criticised the Government for delaying the securing of new trains and franchise provider by over three years - condemnding the department's "programme management capability".
Margaret Hodge, chairwoman of the committee, said: “It was clear as long ago as 1989 that the Thameslink route needed to be upgraded but passengers will not start to see the benefits until the 2020s.
She added: "The planned completion date has been put back to 2018. But meeting the timetable for delivering the new trains will be very demanding and risky.
"We are also sceptical about using PFI to fund this project. It is alarming that the Department compared the PFI option against only one other private sector option and did not construct a public sector comparator to understand better the relative costs, risks and rewards of choosing a PFI funding route over a public one.
"We intend to examine the contract which the Department has recently awarded to Siemens and Cross London Trains."
The Department of Transport responded by highlighting difficulties in financial markets and the complexity of the deal causing a delay in finalising the contract.
Bob Crow, general secretary of the RMT union, said: "This report is a complete vindication of everything that RMT has said about the chaotic Thames link fleet replacement programme which took train making in Britain to the brink of collapse, threatening thousands of jobs while the politicians blundered on.
"Never again must there be a repeat of this expensive and damaging fiasco which was cooked up by the same government department that brought us the rail franchising shambles.
"The battle to save train building in the nation that gave the railways to the world carries on, focussing now on the Crossrail fleet contract. "
Read the report for yourself on Parliament's website.
Comments are closed on this article.