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£2.8bn HS2 contract 'shrouded in mystery', Siemens lawsuit claims

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HS2 is poised to award a flagship £2.8bn train building contract to two manufacturers that failed to meet the rail link’s own criteria after a process "shrouded in mystery", the German manufacturing behemoth Siemens has claimed in the high court.

Bosses at the high-speed rail link have been accused by Siemens Mobility of serious failings after they backed a rival bid from Hitachi and Bombardier.

The Hitachi/Bombardier joint venture failed to meet HS2’s technical requirements - such as manufacturing standards, timetable and cost - but was still selected to build the trains, according to the court filings.

Siemens added that HS2 also failed to consider problems with Hitachi’s trains that led to widespread disruption across the UK rail network earlier this year.

An injunction is now being sought by Siemens to prevent HS2 formally awarding the train building contract to Hitachi and Bombardier. Siemens claims that their contract is the only one to fulfil HS2’s original requirements.

Hitachi and Bombardier were granted “lead tenderer” status earlier this year on the contract, which will be signed once Grant Shapps, Transport Secretary, gives his approval.

The 54 trains will run on the first phase of HS2 between London and Birmingham. The deal will likely pave the way for future contracts for subsequent phases.

Siemens claims that HS2 -which is in toal expected to cost almost £100bn - has “provided little to explain the reasons” for selecting Hitachi and Bombardier.

In the court documents, it said: “The exact progress of the procurement has been shrouded in mystery."

HS2 struck an out of court settlement with a separate spurned Spanish train manufacturer in June. Ministers refused to disclose how much the settlement, a “mutual resolution” with Madrid-listed Talgo, had cost taxpayers.

HS2 is opposing Siemens injunction, instead wanting to “relegate” it to a damages claim - a move that could cost taxpayers tens of millions of pounds.

Siemens also claims that HS2 failed to take into account cracking on Hitachi manufactured trains that brought express services to near standstill over the summer on the east coast and west main lines.

A spokesman for Siemens Mobility said: “We submitted a highly competitive bid to build Britain’s new HS2 trains, and raised a number of concerns with HS2 about how they came to the decision to appoint another bidder as lead tenderer.

“That’s why we’re challenging HS2’s decision in court and asking for injunction to stop the contracts being signed before the issues we’ve raised are resolved.

“With such a big contract being let by a public body, it’s only right that taxpayers know they’re getting the best value for money, and to do that we need to know that the procurement process was run fairly and properly.”

A spokesman for HS2 said they could comment on an ongoing legal case.

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