The Financial Times’s How to Spend It advocates buying a small northern industrial town for little Jonty’s train set…hold on.
No. Actually, its Westminster Blog covers the decision to give the Thameslink contract to Siemens, with punch:
Bear in mind that David Cameron took his regional cabinet to Derby in March in an attempt to emphasise his commitment to manufacturing; Nick Clegg visited Rolls-Royce and George Osborne posed at the Toyota factory. Philip Hammond’s visit to Bombardier was not publicised given the commercial sensitivities....It is striking that the government has chosen to give the major contract to a company which will build them in Germany, although there will be 300 new jobs in Tyneside making components for the trains. Ministers have talked about 2,000 new jobs, although many of these are construction jobs on new depots. The DfT has justified the decision on the basis of “best value for money for taxpayers.”
The problem is that this is the last really major train order for a while. The next one up is for Crossrail, which will be a rail system with similar parameters to Thameslink - a high density core that also includes fast interurban sections at each end.
Expert blog London Reconnections gives extensive detail, pointing out that there will be a strong temptation to give the Crossrail job to Siemens too as the two projects have much in common.
But that means there will never be very much competition ever again. It will be Siemens for suburbs, Veolia for the Underground, and Alstom for long distance. Efforts by the DfT to develop other suppliers and get them to locate in the UK have been fruitless.
It’s all very well to wag the finger at Bombardier and tell them to chase more export orders (does anyone think they wouldn’t bite their hands off?) but this isn’t a plan.