Labour MSP Paul Sweeney has criticised the Scottish Government for not doing more to ensure new trains are built in Scotland, asking “what the hell are they playing at?”
Mr Sweeney wrote to the government asking if it would commit to assembling half of all new ScotRail trains within Scotland itself, to make sure Scottish people and businesses are used as much as possible.
ScotRail is currently refurbishing its class 314 carriages in Bo’ness in a bid to replace diesel trains with more environmentally-friendly models, but Mr Sweeney says any new trains will be built in places like Germany and then transported into Scotland.
“It is sad to see that golden thread broken”
Mr Sweeney said: “The Welsh Government developed an industrial strategy for building at least half of all new trains in Wales, but Scotland has no equivalent.
“There is no industrial strategy and no engineering strategy.
“What the hell are they playing at?
“The trains are built in Germany or Derby and then brought to Scotland because there is no train building capability here.
“It’s pretty sad because Scotland used to build most of the world’s trains but now it can’t even build its own.
It’s pretty sad because Scotland used to build most of the world’s trains but now it can’t even build its own.
“It is sad to see that golden thread broken and the government disinterested in this huge opportunity.
“The government is not signing up to the challenges of being entrepreneurial.”
Transport minister says as much as possible will be done in Scotland
Transport Minister Graeme Dey says the government will try to make sure as many parts of the train-building process are done in Scotland, and says the current refurbishment project in Bo’ness has a local supply chain.
In response to Mr Sweeney’s question, Mr Dey said: “Firstly, as means of clarification the Welsh Government did not commit to 50% of its fleet being assembled in Wales prior to its procurement.
“Both the Welsh and Scottish governments must comply with relevant procurement law.
“The procurement strategy for new rolling stock, to be produced by the wholly owned Scottish Government company named ScotRail Trains Limited, will be subject to approval by Transport Scotland.
“Through that process, the Scottish Government will seek to maximise opportunities for the involvement of the local supply chain.
The Scottish Government will seek to maximise opportunities for the involvement of the local supply chain.
“Transport Scotland has already undertaken informal market testing with manufacturers to ensure the importance of local input is clear and any procurement will restate this.
“The current class 314 conversion project at Bo’ness is focused on developing a local supply chain which will support the need for diesel train replacement by zero emissions fleets.”
Sweeney dubs government response “pathetic” and “a cop out”
In response to Mr Dey, Mr Sweeney said: “He seems completely disinterested to it and is not wanting to create a Scottish company to start up train building.
“This response is pathetic and a cop out.
“It shows a lack of ambition and demonstrates they don’t seem to get it.
“It demonstrates they don’t have the competence to grasp the opportunity.”
ScotRail, Transport Scotland and the Scottish Government were approached for comment, but did not want to add beyond what Mr Dey had said.