Five questions answered on Bombardier’s contract to provide trains for Crossrail

How much is the Bombardier-Crossrail contract worth?

Train and aerospace manufacturer Bombardier has won the contract to manufacture trains for London’s Crossrail project. We answer five questions on the key comission.

How much is the Bombardier-Crossrail contract worth?

The contract is worth a hefty £1bn and requires Bombardier to provide 65 trains for the Crossrail service, set to open in 2018.

Will any new jobs be created by the contract?

Yes. The Department for Transport (DfT) said Bombardier's contract would support 760 manufacturing jobs and 80 apprenticeships at its Derby-based factory. It added that 74 per cent of the amount spent on the contract would stay in the UK economy. A spokesperson for Canada-headquartered Bombardier told the BBC that 340 new jobs would be created in total.

What have business secretary Vince Cable and London mayor Boris Johnson said about the contract?

Cable said the contract would be a good boost to the Midlands. He added: "The government has been working hard with industry to support the UK rail supply chain to maximise growth opportunities through contracts like this."

Johnson said: "With a firm on board to deliver a fleet of 21st century trains and the tunnelling more than halfway complete, we're on track to deliver a truly world-class railway for the capital."

What features will the train carriages have?

The newly built carriages will be 200 metres long and be able to take up to 1,500 passengers. They will also be air-conditioned, with linked, walk-through carriages, and provide live travel information.

What other benefits will come from Crossrail?

As well as the extra jobs at Bombardier, it is estimated that Crossrail, which will travel from Maidenhead and Heathrow Airport to the west of London, to Abbey Wood and Shenfield in the east, would support 55,000 full-time jobs around the country. The government has also said Crossrail will provide about 10 per cent more capacity to the London train network.

Crossrail workers in the disused Connaught tunnel, near Abbey Wood. Photograph: Getty Images.

Heidi Vella is a features writer for

Photo: Getty
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The Liberal Democrats are back - and the Tories should be worried

A Liberal revival could do Theresa May real damage in the south.

There's life in the Liberal Democrats yet. The Conservative majority in Witney has been slashed, with lawyer and nominative determinism case study Robert Courts elected, but with a much reduced majority.

It's down in both absolute terms, from 25,155 to 5,702, but it's never wise to worry too much about raw numbers in by-elections. The percentages tell us a lot more, and there's considerable cause for alarm in the Tory camp as far as they are concerned: the Conservative vote down from 60 per cent to 45 per cent.

(On a side note, I wouldn’t read much of anything into the fact that Labour slipped to third. It has never been a happy hunting ground for them and their vote was squeezed less by the Liberal Democrats than you’d perhaps expect.)

And what about those Liberal Democrats, eh? They've surged from fourth place to second, a 23.5 per cent increase in their vote, a 19.3 swing from Conservative to Liberal, the biggest towards that party in two decades.

One thing is clear: the "Liberal Democrat fightback" is not just a hashtag. The party has been doing particularly well in affluent Conservative areas that voted to stay in the European Union. (It's worth noting that one seat that very much fits that profile is Theresa May's own stomping ground of Maidenhead.)

It means that if, as looks likely, Zac Goldsmith triggers a by-election over Heathrow, the Liberal Democrats will consider themselves favourites if they can find a top-tier candidate with decent local connections. They also start with their by-election machine having done very well indeed out of what you might call its “open beta” in Witney. The county council elections next year, too, should be low hanging fruit for 

As Sam Coates reports in the Times this morning, there are growing calls from MPs and ministers that May should go to the country while the going's good, calls that will only be intensified by the going-over that the PM got in Brussels last night. And now, for marginal Conservatives in the south-west especially, it's just just the pressure points of the Brexit talks that should worry them - it's that with every day between now and the next election, the Liberal Democrats may have another day to get their feet back under the table.

This originally appeared in Morning Call, my daily guide to what's going on in politics and the papers. It's free, and you can subscribe here. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.