A MINISTER has said the Government "can't tell Siemens where to build its trains" following revelations that firm will build the majority of a new London Underground order in Austria.

Earlier this year, the Echo revealed the German firm 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.

But the Echo also 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.

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.

Sedgefield MP Phil Wilson raised the issue in Parliament earlier this week, asking Andrew Jones, Harrogate MP and Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Transport , if guarantees could be given that future contracts will be given to firms based in Britain, such as Hitachi, supporting British workers.

Mr Jones replied: "I cannot direct a private company where they should be placing an order, we are in an open market economy.

"We have competition and that competition delivered passenger benefits, and competition helps deliver passenger value which was never possible when this was a national railway."

Mr Jones also praised Mr Wilson for being a "great champion" for Hitachi and vowed to visit the factory in the coming weeks.

Speaking afterwards, Mr Wilson said: "When a train manufacturer says they will build their trains in the UK, it’s not unreasonable to expect them to do so.

"I’m disappointed the Minister couldn’t agree with me."

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.