COMMONS

Chair's statement on progress in the Thameslink Programme

05 June 2013

A statement from The Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, Chair of the Committee of Public Accounts:

"Despite the Department’s chequered history in this area, it was encouraging to see that the first phase of the infrastructure project to alter both Blackfriars and Farringdon stations came in on time and under budget. The Department now has to build the rest of the infrastructure, buy new trains and let the operating franchise.

Unlike the shambolic HS2 business case, the case for Thameslink is clear: it is consistently among the most crowded routes in London. However, the Department will have to balance the demands of delivering this complex project alongside HS2 and Crossrail. With only a small team running Thameslink and their most senior person leaving, I am worried that the Department is doomed to repeat history and have underestimated the scale of work, time and skills needed to deliver such an important and complex project.

There has been a three year delay trying to agree the £1.6 billion contract for trains. There is a risk the 2018 completion date will slip if negotiations with Siemens, the train provider, aren’t concluded soon. I am concerned at this stage in the project, given the lengthy delays, that the Department has left itself with little contingency should anything go wrong. It needs to plan ahead and make sure it avoids another west-coast mainline style fiasco.

Image: iStockphoto

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