A Labour MP has accused manufacturing giant Siemens of duping transport bosses over where dozens of new London Underground trains will be built, claiming two thirds are set to be manufactured in Austria.
In November, Siemens Mobility signed a £1.5bn deal to design and manufacture 94 ‘Deep Tube’ trains for the London Underground’s Piccadilly Line, replacing the existing 1970s fleet with new air-conditioned trains.
Announcing the deal, Siemens said it would work closely with TfL to “consider options for local manufacture in the UK”, having previously published plans for a new factory in Goole, East Yorkshire, which would create 700 jobs.
But in a letter to London Mayor Sadiq Khan published by the Northern Echo, Sedgefield MP Phil Wilson – whose constituency includes rival firm Hitachi’s Newton Aycliffe manufacturing plant – said Siemens was planning to build two thirds of the new trains at its site in Vienna.
Meanwhile, Wilson told the mayor the Goole factory would not be open in time to deliver the first trains, due for testing in 2023, with Siemens only having applied for planning permission for the plant in January.
“As you can imagine, I’m deeply disappointed to hear that the Goole factory will be unable to fulfil the full contract when there is a fully-operational train-building facility in my constituency which has the labour force, the expertise and the supply chain to deliver the order alongside Bombardier,” he wrote.
“As far as Siemens’ commitment to the UK is concerned, it seems to me that the company has pulled the wool over Transport for London’s eyes.”
Hitachi, along with Bombardier, launched a High Court challenge when Siemens was awarded the tube contract, but judges ruled the deal could go ahead.
When asked to respond to the claims, a spokesperson for Siemens said the company would work with TfL to “maximise” the number of Piccadilly Line trains built at its planned new factory in Goole.
“The award of the DTUP contract is a significant step allowing Siemens Mobility Limited to progress its plan to build a new factory in Goole, East Yorkshire, to manufacture and commission trains,” they wrote in an email.
“The Siemens Mobility factory would employ up to 700 people in skilled engineering and manufacturing roles, plus up to an additional 250 people during the construction phase of the factory.”
This would result in the creation of around 1,700 indirect jobs throughout the UK supply chain, they added.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Khan said: “The mayor was not involved in the Deep Tube procurement process, and TfL officials had to follow a stringent set of criteria around deliverability, technical expertise and value for money.”
TfL’s procurement practices are regulated by EU legislation, which strictly prevents UK public bodies from favouring UK manufacturers, they added.