LONDON transport bosses knew a fleet of underground trains would be built in Austria when they snubbed an established North-East train builder which is desperate for new orders, The Northern Echo can reveal.

Earlier this year, the Echo exclusively revealed Siemens will manufacture at least two-thirds of the new 94 Deep Tube trains to serve the London Underground's Piccadilly line in Vienna.

A joint bid between Newton Aycliffe-based Hitachi and Bombardier lost out in the bidding process to Siemens, who vowed to invest in a new factory in Goole, East Yorkshire, as part of the deal. creating thousands of new jobs.

But a Freedom of Information request has revealed Transport for London, the government body responsible for awarding the contract, were aware of Siemens' intention to build the trains in Vienna in December 2017, almost a year before announcing the deal.

The Northern Echo:

Bosses at Siemens have also admitted to the Echo they face "quite tight" deadlines as to whether the factory in Goole will be open in time to construct the trains, which are expected to be tested in 2023 and enter operation the following year.

Planning permission has yet to be granted, and the firm is still negotiating how many trains will be built in Goole with TfL.

Sedgefield MP Phil Wilson, who previously called for a review into a decision to award Siemens the contract, described the latest revelations as "outrageous" and said Hitachi workers in Newton Aycliffe had "every right to be angry".

"We now know the majority of the trains will be built in Austria, and we now have to ask the question if any of them will be built in the UK at all," he said.

"The promises that were originally made when Siemens were offered the contract have not been kept.

"Hitachi remain in the running for other contracts including the Tyne and Wear Metro, which would see trains for the North-East built in the North-East and the big one which is HS2."

The Northern Echo:

Mr Wilson wrote to Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and TfL earlier this year about his concerns, claiming they had "undermined their commitment" to UK manufacturing and Siemens had"pulled the wool" over their eyes.

He also intends to raise the issue with Business Secretary Greg Clark and Transport Secretary Chris Grayling, who last month said the government “would do everything it can” for Hitachi.

The vow came after the Unite union warned the firm faces an "increasingly concerning" future when current orders for new trains run out next spring.

A Hitachi spokesperson said: “The train we put forward was to be built in Britain. We believe it offered a more advanced design and better value for money, and would have provided a greater boost to the economy in London and the UK.”

A spokesperson for TfL said: "All bidders submitted their final bid proposals in December 2017. The Siemens bid confirmed trains would be manufactured in their existing facilities in Vienna.

"In accordance with EU utilities procurement regulations it is not possible to take into consideration the country of manufacture when making the decision.

"The award recommendation was made on the basis of anonymised bidder information evaluated in accordance with the published evaluation criteria.

"We will continue to work with Siemens to maximise the number of new state-of-the-art trains that can be built in a new facility in Goole while ensuring they can start serving Piccadilly line customers from 2024.

"We are also seeking to ensure that the manufacturer provides as many apprenticeship, employment and sub-contract opportunities as possible to UK businesses to help deliver the new trains."