Alstom leaves Crossrail tender as decision delayed

French train builder Alstom Transport has pulled out of bidding to supply train carriages to London's £16bn Crossrail, as the rail project said it was delaying its decision on the train tender to save money.

Crossrail, which will link Heathrow to the east side of London through newly-built tunnels, has pushed back the tender for 60 new carriages to 2014 from late 2013.

The move that could allow the government to include it in a review of whether public procurement should benefit UK-based manufacturers.

The decision by Alstom, which builds France's high-speed TGV trains and Virgin's pendolino carriages, to quit the bidding comes amid intense scrutiny of whether a UK-based train builder should be awarded the tender.

"Crossrail had identified that significant operational cost savings, running into tens of millions, can be realised for taxpayers by introducing rolling stock to the rail network over a shorter period of time," Crossrail's programme director Andy Mitchell said in a statement.

"As a consequence of the shorter delivery timescales, contract award is not required until 2014 and therefore the issuing of tender documents can be deferred, allowing the conclusions of the government's review of public procurement to be taken into account."

The government review was announced in the wake of a controversial decision in June to award a consortium led by Germany's Siemens a contract to build 1,200 train carriages for the Thameslink rail service.

Canada's Bombardier - the only remaining train builder in the UK - said in July that it was cutting 1,400 jobs at its plant in Derby after it lost out on the Thameslink deal.

Alstom's decision to pull out leaves Bombardier, Siemens, Spain's CAF and Japan's Hitachi competing to win the work.

Crossrail, the biggest infrastructure project in Europe, has already had its opening date delayed until late 2018 from 2017 in last year's spending review to cut costs.

Crossrail now expects tender documents to be issued in 2012, having previously expected them to be issued in late 2011, with contract awards due in late 2013.