We have long needed a more structured planned and transparent approach to rolling stock procurement.
The disastrous handling of the Thameslink rolling stock project and the threats to the future of rail production at the UK’s sole remaining rail manufacturing facility at Bombardier in Derby prompted a passionate and high profile campaign by trade unions and the local community to defend British rail manufacturing.
The government have been forced to take a new approach to this. We welcome the fact that they now want to be more pro-active in planning new train build and ensuring that bidders for train building contracts demonstrate how they will help the UK economy and from where the work will be sourced.
But the government makes clear that it sees its role in train procurement as limited.
It wants train operating companies to play more of a role in buying new trains. But there will be no obligation on them to support UK manufacturing. And why should they? Many of them are owned by German, Dutch and French state enterprises who may well favour their own train builders.
By handing over strategically important train procurement to the private train operators, the government is absolving itself of its role in supporting UK jobs and manufacturing.