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Bombardier’s hopes dashed as Cameron refuses to halt £1.4bn train contract

Prime minister refuses to meet local delegation, telling MP the decision to give the manufacturing deal to rival Siemens is final

Bombardier’s hopes that the government will halt a £1.4bn train contract awarded to a rival have been dashed.

David Cameron wrote to Chris Williamson, Labour MP for Derby North, saying he would neither reverse the decision nor meet a delegation to discuss the issue.

Bombardier says the lost contract is set to cost more than 1,400 jobs at its Derby factory. Trade union leaders fear that the Canadian-owned engineering group will have to shut its Derby operations altogether, costing a further 1,600 jobs, after the government chose Germany’s Siemens as preferred bidder to build 1,200 carriages for the London Thameslink route.

Cameron wrote: “I am afraid that neither I nor the Secretary of State for Transport can … justify stopping the procurement process to reinvite tenders. This would cause very substantial delays to the programme and moreover, would not help Bombardier which, even if it were successful at retender, would still not have the work for several more years.”

The prime minister declined an invitation to meet Derby councillors and business leaders. The Tory leader of Derby council, Philip Hickson, warned recently that the Thameslink situation could result in a jobs “disaster” for the city.

An opinion poll has has revealed that the Conservative Party could lose the South Derbyshire constituency at the next general election because of the Bombardier decision. Cameron said he had already met MPs from the Derbyshire area to discuss the Thameslink contract.

He added in the letter that Bombardier had “significant opportunities” to win more train manufacturing dealsas the government had maintained funding for upgrades to the rail network and the London Underground.

The next big contract, for the London Crossrail route, is several years away from being awarded and the holder of the Thameslink contract is expected to have the upper hand in any bidding contest, industry insiders say.

“I know that the Thameslink decision has come as a serious blow to Bombardier and its employees,” Cameron wrote. “However, the company has had a strong track record in winning orders in the past and there is every reason to expect that to continue in the future.” © Guardian News & Media Limited 2011 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds