Latest on £1.4bn Thameslink train contract
It has sparked controversy. But the Government and German firm Siemens are confident the £1.4bn Thameslink train contract will be sealed next year - more than a year after the plans were first announced.
The Department for Transport (DfT) announced in June last year that it had chosen a consortium led by Siemens to build around 1,200 new carriages on the Thameslink commuter route in the South East of England.
The deal is set to create up to 2,000 jobs with around 600 highly-skilled roles involved in making train components. The first trains are expected to be delivered for testing on the network in summer 2015 with the full fleet introduced towards the end of 2018.
But the final financial closure of the deal is yet to be reached, sparking Derby North MP Chris Williamson to ask questions in the House of Commons.
It comes in the wake of anger over the Government's decision to choose Siemens rather than Bombardier, which has its base in Derby, for the Thameslink contract.
In a written answer to his questions, Transport Minister Simon Burns said: "Department officials are working with Siemens to secure financial close early in the New Year for the new trains for Thameslink.
"I am aware of the consequences of failing to conclude the procurement and as you would expect, my department is closely monitoring progress, including assessing options were it not possible to secure financial close."
A DfT spokesman yesterday said: "Like any large and complex programme of procurement, the target date for concluding the Thameslink rolling stock procurement can change as all parties involved in the contract seek to ensure the right deal is finalised.
"We remain fully committed to this project. Department for Transport officials continue to work closely with Siemens and stakeholders to ensure this contract progresses and we are confident we will reach financial close in the New Year."
A Siemens spokeswoman said: "We continue to make good progress on concluding the deal and we anticipate concluding commercial closure of the contracts before Christmas. Financial closure will be as soon as possible in the New Year."
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