Crossrail Trains To Be Supplied Under PFI

Rachel Holdsworth
By Rachel Holdsworth Last edited 77 months ago
Crossrail Trains To Be Supplied Under PFI

Crossrail trains look set to be financed under PFI, after transport secretary Justine Greening denied Boris Johnson's request to buy the rolling stock through TfL.

The Mayor wanted TfL to borrow the £1bn necessary to buy the trains, since it can get better interest rates than private companies (this is where all that AAA credit-rating gubbins comes in; TfL shares the government top-rank status). But TfL has already taken out £6.4bn in loans and isn't allowed to add more than £1.9bn over the next four years; the Crossrail deal would have pushed it over its debt ceiling. With a government hellbent on driving down public debt, not even Boris's fondness for borrowing was going to persuade them.

This decision is a bit of a shitter for UK manufacturing because the bidding process is now a mirror of the Thameslink deal, making it likely that Siemens will end up the main contractor rather than, say, Derby-based Bombardier. It's also possible the deal could work out more expensive in the long run, as TfL — who will run Crossrail when it's finished — has to lease the trains back from the PFI group. And we know PFI has always worked out really well for TfL in the past. Er.

One day trains will run through here: Crossrail works at Royal Oak by IanVisits, from the Londonist Flickr pool

Last Updated 12 December 2011

Terry Moran

Maybe Justine Greening has travelled and more then likely  been de-trained off a defective Bombardier S*** Stock on the Metropolitan line or she has been violated by the rock hard seats (if she ever got one) on Bombardier 378s on LORL??? 


it could also work out more expensive to select locally built trains. after all if bombardier is guaranteed to get it, what incentive do they have to tender a competitive price?


I read that Bombardier were going to cut 1100 (give or take) jobs anyway before the Thameslink contract was announced.


PPP was a different structure to the PFI, so the comparison is relevant but not exact. A  better case is the Jubilee and Northern Lines trains.

The Northern Line's '95 trains are supplied by PFI, the similar but not identical Jubilee '96 trains were bought outright. As a result of that the '96 were build for lowest initial cost - you can see differences in the LEDs used on the destination indicators, for example, and you can hear the difference in the way they rev up (the characteristic Meeerrr - Meeerrrrrr - MEERRRR on the jubilee line is caused by their more primitive traction control system).

The '95s were build for lowest lifetime cost - they have better components and were more expensive to build, but run better and will last longer - costing less in the long run.

PFI, done well, can be good. Complex arrangements like the PPP are not helpful, but this sort of deal for Crossrail could be a good idea - and by keeping the £1bn off the books we might be able to borrow that and spend it on something else in future.


Siemens will, in all likelihood, win and rightly so - technically their rail fleets are a cut above Bombardier's offerings and with Crossrail being so similar to Thameslink its sheer common sense to have a common design.