The first of the new Thameslink passenger trains have been shown off for the first time. 115 high capacity trains are being built as part of the Government-sponsored £6.5bn Thameslink Programme.
The trains will run on the current Thameslink route (Bedford - Brighton and Wimbledon loop) and new routes that will become part of a wider Thameslink network in 2018.
The new trains will start running in early 2016.
MPs have questioned whether the Thameslink project will be completed on schedule, amid serious concerns about the progress of the project.
In a new report, the public accounts committee said the Department for Transport lacked project management skills but had completed the first phase on budget.
– Public Accounts Committee report on Thameslink
The department made changes to its plans for the franchise very late in the day. Prior to 2013 the department's approach to letting the franchise to operate the new service was not joined up with the rest of the Thameslink programme, highlighting weaknesses in the department's programme management capability.
We remain concerned about the department's skills and capacity to complete Thameslink by 2018, alongside its ambitious wider portfolio of programmes and projects.
Has the Government's failure to buy new trains for Thameslink put the entire upgrade of the multi-billion pound route at risk?
The Government was supposed to sign a contract for the trains three years ago.
Today the National Audit Office condemned that delay, saying it could mean the vital improvements to the route delay wont be ready by the deadline of 2018.
Political Correspondent Simon Harris reports.
Delays in awarding the contract to build the trains for the Government's Thameslink upgrade may have put the project in jeopardy, a public spending watchdog says.
The National Audit Office (NAO) says the delays cast doubt on the government's ability to deliver a major upgrade of the key rail route by the 2018 deadline.
– Amyas Morse, Head of National Audit Office
"It's too early in the Thameslink programme to conclude on whether or not it will achieve value for money. That will have to wait until the new service is running. However, there has been good progress in delivering the first stage of the infrastructure part of the programme on time and under budget, which the department now needs to build on. Our principal concern is around the delay in agreeing the contract to build new trains which raises questions about the feasibility of delivering the whole programme by 2018."
A public spending watchdog has cast doubt on the Government's ability to deliver a major upgrade to a key rail route by the 2018 deadline.
Delays in awarding the contract to build new trains for the Thameslink risk putting the entire project behind schedule.
The problems call into question the ability of civil servants to plan complex transport schemes, according to the National Audit Office.
The NAO report found there continues to be a "robust" case for investment in the route because Thameslink is one of the capital's most overcrowded services.
A contract for the trains was supposed to have been signed off by March 2010 but the DfT only selected its preferred bidder - a consortium led by Germany's Siemens at the expense of Bombardier Transportation, which builds trains in Derby - in June 2011 and the deal has yet to be finalised.
The government has revealed the list of companies bidding to run the Thameslink and Essex Thameside rail franchises.
MTR Corporation, Dutch company Abellio, FirstGroup and National Express are all vying for the 15-year Essex Thameside franchise, currently run by c2c, which will start in May 2013.
Abellio is also among the bidders for the Thameslink contract along with FirstGroup, Stagecoach, MTR and the Go-Ahead Group. This seven-year franchise will start in September 2013.
Rail Minister Theresa Villiers welcomed the "strong interest" shown in the competitions by the rail industry.
"The new Thameslink operator will help oversee the completion of the Thameslink project which will enable a near doubling of capacity into and through central London in the peak periods.
"The operator of Essex Thameside services will be expected to support economic growth along the Thames Gateway."