Why TfL boss Mike Brown thinks Yorkshire can become a railway epicentre

The boss of the world’s biggest integrated transport authority has said that a new £200m railway factory in Yorkshire will ensure trains will be constructed in the region for “generations to come”.

Transport for London (TfL) commissioner Mike Brown told The Yorkshire Post that he hoped that a £1.5bn contract it had signed with Siemens to construct trains for the London Underground at its new factory in Goole, East Yorkshire, would lead to more deals being signed with the factory.

More than 700 jobs are set to be created at the Siemens Mobility facility in Goole, with work set to get underway this year and the first train due to come off the production line in 2023. The TfL deal with the Goole factory is for a fleet of new trains to replace the nearly 50 year old trains on the Piccadilly Line.

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But Mr Brown said that the door was open for further contracts as it looks to upgrade the Bakerloo Line next.

“With the Bakerloo line there is potentially an option in the order to continue with a procurement that would include new Bakerloo Line trains.

“We have an ambition to extend it into parts of parts of South East London that have never been served before by the Tube.

“I am really confident that we will get a really brilliant product produced by our colleagues at Siemens and that will set us on track for an order book that extends for many years to come.”

Mr Brown was in Goole alongside William Wilson, CEO of Siemens Mobility to formally announce the appointment of the first wave of apprentices at the factory.

How the Goole facility could appear

The Siemens chief said that the firm was currently well ensconced in the process of getting the factory operational in just two years.

“We are at the detailed planning stage at the moment,” he said.

“We are looking at things like the workflow patterns inside the factory.

“The footprint is more or less decided. We know here the buildings are going to be for phase one.

Mike Brown and William Wilson at Goole Academy

“The detail in order to make sure we have a very productive factory with the right quality going out.

“We have to have this building completed, there is a lot of infrastructure work, we have a lot of railway to build - all of that has to be done by 2022 in order to have the first unit come out in 2023.”

Siemens has invested heavily in Yorkshire in recent years, operating a wind turbine blade factory in Hull and running a facility in Leeds.

Mr Wilson attributed the investment to “the availability of the workforce but also the attitude”.

Mike Brown, TFL, and William Wilson, Siemens Mobility.

He added: “We find that our wind blade factory is very productive, probably one of the most productive factories we have in our whole group.”

Mr Brown, who is to step down from his TfL role next month and take up a new role as Chair of the Delivery Authority for the Restoration & Renewal of the Houses of Parliament, told the YP that he was gratified that the latest tranche of rolling stock to begin operating on the London Underground was to be built in Britain.

“It’s brilliant,” he said.

“It is really important to me that the investment that goes into the transport system in London has such a wonderful contribution to communities and to innovation in parts of the world such as Goole.

“It is why it is so important and I am sure the Prime Minister, as my former boss as Mayor of London will understand this, that when he talks quite rightly about leveling up in the rest of the UK that does not mean levelling down in London. We have got to bring the whole country up together.

“I am really delighted that given the great industrial legacy that this part of the world has that there is yet again going to be some serious train building in this part of the world that I know will go on for generations to come.

The site of the railway factory in Goole

“It is really exciting.”

Siemens has big plans for the Goole site, wanting it to become an epicentre for rail manufacturing and design akin the AMRC in South Yorkshire. Mr Wilson said that he also hoped that the site would attract fresh investment from companies wishing to set up or relocate to Yorkshire.

“The trick is to have a sustainable business,” he said.

“We want to build the London Underground trains but that is 12 years worth of work. We want to build a sustainable business that will be here in 100 years time.

“That means having a little more diversity.

“Obviously the core of the business is building trains but it’s also about being able to modify, having a train academy there, the University of Birmingham are also going to co-locate on the site as well.

“And then we have this concept of a rail village in which we bring our supply chain in initially on to our site, give them flexible leases, so they can do their assembly on site, but also alongside the LEP we will be encouraging companies to locate here so that we can create something that is unique within rail.”

Siemens wind turbine factory in Hull
Siemens train in action