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 Nridigital.com

How Jim Murphy's mistake cost Labour - and helped make Ruth Davidson

Scottish Labour's former leader's great mistake was to run away from Labour's Scottish referendum, not on it.

The strange revival of Conservative Scotland? Another poll from north of the border, this time from the Times and YouGov, shows the Tories experiencing a revival in Scotland, up to 28 per cent of the vote, enough to net seven extra seats from the SNP.

Adding to the Nationalists’ misery, according to the same poll, they would lose East Dunbartonshire to the Liberal Democrats, reducing their strength in the Commons to a still-formidable 47 seats.

It could be worse than the polls suggest, however. In the elections to the Scottish Parliament last year, parties which backed a No vote in the referendum did better in the first-past-the-post seats than the polls would have suggested – thanks to tactical voting by No voters, who backed whichever party had the best chance of beating the SNP.

The strategic insight of Ruth Davidson, the Conservative leader in Scotland, was to to recast her party as the loudest defender of the Union between Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom. She has absorbed large chunks of that vote from the Liberal Democrats and Labour, but, paradoxically, at the Holyrood elections at least, the “Unionist coalition” she assembled helped those parties even though it cost the vote share.

The big thing to watch is not just where the parties of the Union make gains, but where they successfully form strong second-places against whoever the strongest pro-Union party is.

Davidson’s popularity and eye for a good photo opportunity – which came first is an interesting question – mean that the natural benefactor in most places will likely be the Tories.

But it could have been very different. The first politician to hit successfully upon the “last defender of the Union” routine was Ian Murray, the last Labour MP in Scotland, who squeezed both the  Liberal Democrat and Conservative vote in his seat of Edinburgh South.

His then-leader in Scotland, Jim Murphy, had a different idea. He fought the election in 2015 to the SNP’s left, with the slogan of “Whether you’re Yes, or No, the Tories have got to go”.  There were a couple of problems with that approach, as one  former staffer put it: “Firstly, the SNP weren’t going to put the Tories in, and everyone knew it. Secondly, no-one but us wanted to move on [from the referendum]”.

Then again under different leadership, this time under Kezia Dugdale, Scottish Labour once again fought a campaign explicitly to the left of the SNP, promising to increase taxation to blunt cuts devolved from Westminster, and an agnostic position on the referendum. Dugdale said she’d be open to voting to leave the United Kingdom if Britain left the European Union. Senior Scottish Labour figures flirted with the idea that the party might be neutral in a forthcoming election. Once again, the party tried to move on – but no-one else wanted to move on.

How different things might be if instead of running away from their referendum campaign, Jim Murphy had run towards it in 2015. 

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

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