Rail operators should take the lead role in rolling stock procurement, not governments, according to senior officials.

Speaking at the Growth & the Capacity Challenge conference in London on 10 March, UK Chiltern Railways strategic managing director Allan Dare said a single rolling stock procurement strategy would reduce competition and run the risk of locking the industry into a large order for an unsatisfactory design.

“A government-led single procurement strategy is very unlikely to result in a single train capable of fulfilling all of our needs,” Dare said.

“Private companies should be allowed to compete with different designs, allowing market forces to ensure the selection of the fittest.

“One of the worst aspects of government procurement is that it decouples equipment selection and risk.

“It does not make sense that a train operator should be responsible for the financial, capacity and performance risks that result from the stock they have not personally selected.”

Over the past decade traffic on Chiltern Railways has grown by 200%. During this time the rail fleet has grown by 93 vehicles – all procured solely by Chiltern in 12 separate procurement exercises.

Chiltern has credited this gradual expansion for allowing the railway to match train capacities to demand while avoiding the costs associated with a sudden surge in capacity.

By Daniel Garrun.