The Labour Party has pledged to stop awarding rail manufacturing contracts to foreign companies if it comes to power.
The shadow transport secretary, Andy McDonald, used a visit to the Centre for Railway Research and Education in Birmingham to promise the party would “throw its weight behind British rail manufacturing,” and he criticised the government’s record of sending contracts abroad.
Network Rail has awarded rail contracts worth at least £106m to foreign companies since 2014, according to official figures.
Meanwhile, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reports that the number of rail manufacturing jobs has dropped by 12.5% since 2011.
Labour has vowed to have “a default position of facilitating British procurement” in the rail industry and ensure that all new rolling stock is publicly owned.
McDonald’s trip came as part of Labour’s campaign to bring manufacturing back to the UK if it is in government, called “Build it in Britain”.
Speaking ahead of the visit, he said the government had “savaged our industrial heritage” by sending major public contracts overseas.
“We will rebuild our rail industry, to develop the high-tech skills of young people and all workers, to promote 21st century manufacturing, and to defend jobs and the communities that depend on them,” he said.
“The next Labour government is going to throw its weight behind British rail manufacturing, and build a British rail network that works for the many, not the few,” he added.
A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “The UK has significant expertise in manufacturing trains and since 2010 there have been around 4,000 new carriage orders placed with UK manufacturers.
“These orders have helped to create hundreds of new jobs and safeguard thousands of others across the industry and its supply chain.”