The UK Department for Transport (DFT) has announced the formation of a new company designed to speed up the procurement of 202 new diesel train carriages.

Diesel Trains Limited has been set up as part of the Chancellor’s pre-budget review, announced in November 2008, which will see an extra £1bn dedicated to accelerating major transport projects.

The budget includes the provision of the 202 new carriages, which are destined to relieve overcrowding in the Thames Valley, around Bristol and on longer distances in northern England.

The trains are set to enter service by 2012, subject to negotiations with train operators First Great Western, Trans-Pennine Express and Northern Rail.

UK Transport minister Andrew Adonis said that setting up the company was the most effective way of buying new trains quickly.

“”I’m delighted we have reached such an important stage and that passengers will see the benefits within a relatively short period of time,” he said.

In a letter to industry partners the DfT has made it clear that it does not intend to be a long-term owner of trains and that the new company is not intended to compete with other rolling stock leasing companies.

To ensure this is the case the Department will invite the market to bid either for the company or for the assets and related contracts within it, and to take on the ownership and leasing of the trains.

A successful bidder to build the new train carriages is expected to be announced in April this year.

By Daniel Garrun.