German train maker Siemens has launched a legal challenge to HS2 awarding its rolling stock contract to a joint venture of Hitachi Rail and Bombardier Transportation (now Alstom), according to a report in The Times.
The report claims that HS2 Ltd, which is building Britain’s new high-speed railway, will face a hearing next month at which Siemens Mobility will seek an injunction preventing the company and Transport Secretary Grant Shapps from signing a contract with a joint venture of Hitachi Rail and Bombardier Transportation (since acquired by Alstom) for the supply of trains for the new line, purported to be in the region of £2.8 billion.
Challenges to contract awards by a losing bidder are nothing new. Alstom challenged Siemens’ win of Eurostar’s rolling stock contract win in 2011.
Laurie Waugh, government affairs manager at Siemens Mobility, explained the challenge: “We submitted a highly competitive bid to build Britain’s new HS2 trains, and raised a number of concerns with HS2 about how they came to the decision to appoint another bidder as lead tenderer.
“That’s why we’re challenging HS2’s decision in court and asking for injunction to stop the contracts being signed before the issues we’ve raised are resolved.
“With such a big contract being let by a public body, it’s only right that taxpayers know they’re getting the best value for money, and to do that we need to know that the procurement process was run fairly and properly.”
Siemens Mobility is currently building a train manufacturing plant at Goole, East Yorkshire, in which it is proposing to build part of an order for Underground trains for Transport for London. However, industry observers have long realised that the new factory would also be an ideal facility in which to build high-speed trains for HS2. Siemens already has high-speed trains running in the UK – the latest Eurostar fleet was manufactured by Siemens in Germany.
Hitachi Rail has a train-making factory in Newton Aycliffe, Country Durham, and built the latest intercity train fleets for LNER and GWR there.
Bombardier Transportation, recently acquired by French train-maker Alstom, has a design office and factory at Derby, where a number of British train fleets have been built over the years including the new one for London’s Crossrail.
It is believed that, if the joint venture does indeed win the order, manufacture will be split between the two British sites.
Will Tanner, Alstom’s communications director for the UK and Ireland, stated: “We will not be commenting on ongoing legal proceedings.”
In 2015, Hitachi acquired Italian train maker AnsaldoBreda, which, in another venture with Bombardier, manufactured the fleet of Frecciarossa (Red Arrow) ETR1000 high-speed trains for Italian state operator Trenitalia.
All three companies have a high-speed pedigree (Hitachi also builds Japanese ‘bullet’ trains), but it will be interesting to see who wins the legal battle.