how long does it take to build a train?
Some critics of the railway say the answer to peak hour overcrowding is for the operators to run more trains.
But even if more trains can be procured, how long is it likely to take?
When will my new trains arrive?
If an operator (and the Department for Transport) are agreed that new trains should be procured – either to replace older stock or to enlarge the fleet – a contract must first be signed by a ROSCo (a rolling stock leasing company) and a train manufacturer. Incidentally, although it is not a significant factor, another 10 days must elapse after the name of the manufacturer is announced under EU procurement rules – just in case a competitor wants to challenge the fairness of the bidding process.
All being well, work can then start. At one extreme, the first deliveries could take place within a few months, if the chosen manufacturer already has a production line in action producing the trains required. Even then, previous orders will normally get priority.
If a production line must be set up, the wait is now likely to be a year or more. If the trains being ordered are different from existing types in some way, and particularly if they must be designed first, we are now looking at two to three years – at least. If the new trains are particularly complex or radically different from anything else, then the wait could be four or five years, or even longer.
Franchised operators do not buy trains: they lease them. New franchise bids often include undertakings to enlarge or replace a fleet, and these additional leasing costs are of course factored in to the general outgoings by the bidder. In such cases, it is possible for a bidder to have preliminary discussions with manufacturers on a ‘no commitment’ basis while the franchise competition is in progress, and some time may be saved in this way if the franchise bid is successful.