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NSW intercity trains to be built in Korea

AAP logoAAP 18/08/2016 By Stefanie Menezes

The NSW government has come under fire for awarding a multi-billion dollar contract to build its new intercity trains in South Korea.

The 65 double-decker trains, which will come equipped with mobile phone charging stations, wider seats and tray tables, will link Sydney to the Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Newcastle and the south coast.

The multinational RailConnect consortium - which includes Australia's UGL Rail, Mitsubishi Electric Australia and the Seoul-based Hyundai Rotem Corporation - won the $2.3 billion contract and will build the trains in South Korea.

The decision has sparked outrage from unions and Labor, who argue that the trains should be built in NSW.

But Transport Minister Andrew Constance says the winning tender offered a 25 per cent saving.

"If I didn't go with this winning bid you'd be criticising me the other way," he said while making the announcement on Thursday.

"Of course everyone is pro-Australian manufacturing and jobs but at the same time you've got to weigh it up, in terms of cost, you've got to weigh it up in terms of technology."

Maintenance for the 500-plus carriages will take place at a new facility in Kangy Angy, on the state's Central Coast, subject to planning approval.

That would secure at least 200 local jobs for the next 15 years, Mr Constance said.

The NSW secretary of the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU), Tim Ayres, says the government doesn't deserve any credit for those jobs.

"Maintenance of trains happens in Australia because you can't send a plane on a train to be maintained in China".

More than 1200 jobs would have been created in NSW if the lucrative tender had included a local content requirement, Mr Ayres said.

"All of the companies involved in the tendering process have significant Australian operations," he told AAP.

"There are two facilities ready to go now that can build 100 per cent of these trains".

The capacity for such companies to secure future local work has also been squandered, he said.

"It defies economic sense to wilfully send these offshore," Mr Ayres said.

Opposition Leader Luke Foley said the state government's decision is a "crushing blow" to communities in the Illawarra, Hunter and western Sydney, which depend on manufacturing jobs.

"We can have a balance here," he said.

"Government have to ensure an efficient price but we can also back local businesses, local workers and give kids apprenticeships in skilled trades. This is all possible with a government that is interested," Mr Foley said.

The first trains are expected to roll out by 2019.

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