Train manufacturing jobs could be at risk without TfL funding

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has warned that manufacturing jobs in the North of England could be at risk if central government does not provide more funding for Transport for London (TfL).

Khan made the comments while visiting the Siemens Mobility facility in Goole, East Yorkshire, where half of the 94 new Piccadilly Line Tube trains are due to be built.

The much-needed new trains, which passengers will see on the Piccadilly Line from 2025, will improve frequency, reliability and capacity on the line, replacing the previous 1970s-built fleet.

However, TfL lost a huge amount of its revenue due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which saw its income from ticket sales drastically reduced as passengers avoided public transport and many shifted to home working.

Despite the scrapping of social distancing rules, figures from February showed that Tube passenger levels are only about 60 per cent of pre-pandemic levels, with buses reaching around 75 per cent of the pre-Covid rate.

In January 2021, TfL admitted it would need years of additional financial support to keep it afloat and later that year warned that more than 100 bus routes might need to be cut if its finances remained dire.

During his visit to Goole, Khan said that TfL’s contract have been a key catalyst for Siemens Mobility to progress their multi-million-pound investment in the facility, which has created thousands of UK jobs.

He called on the government to agree a long-term capital funding deal with TfL to ensure that future manufacturing contracts can be signed.

Fifty per cent of the new train fleet will be built in the Siemens Mobility factory in Goole, employing up to 700 people in engineering and manufacturing roles, 250 in construction and 1,700 in the broader supply chain. TfL said they are “the greenest trains” that have run on the Tube network: 95 per cent of the train materials are reusable and the trains also offer regenerative braking capability, reducing energy consumption by 20 per cent, and featuring cutting-edge traction systems and LED lighting throughout.

TfL calculates that 55p in every pound invested in improving London Underground is being spent outside of London.

Khan wants to “rapidly expand” the order book, with both new trains and cleaner buses for London’s transport network, but believes a sustainable long-term capital funding deal from government is needed to make the commitment.

Khan said: “Visiting this Yorkshire factory and the state-of-the-art Piccadilly Line trains being built, it is clear how strong London’s relationships with our regional suppliers are, demonstrating just how vital skills and expertise around the country is to London’s success and how investment in TfL is vital to jobs and a UK-wide recovery.

“Without sufficient capital investment in TfL, future contracts with regional suppliers are at risk. The best way to secure these highly skilled jobs into the future is for ministers to break the continuous cycle of short-term funding deals handed to TfL which only holds back London and the rest of the country from innovation, jobs and economic growth.”

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