Construction begins on new rail technology centre in North West England
10 October 2016 • Author: Katie Sadler, Digital Content Producer, European Railway Review
Alstom has begun construction work on its new rail technology centre and training academy in Widnes, North West England.
At a ground-breaking ceremony attended by UK Rail Minister Paul Maynard, Alstom celebrated the start of construction work on its €25 million technology centre and training academy in Widnes. Due for completion in May 2017, the centre could create up to 600 jobs for local people in the long term and, once fully operational, offer 15,000 hours of training each year.
“We believe Britain can lead the world in the booming global rail industry but we need a modern, highly skilled workforce to achieve this”
Commenting at the ceremony, Rail Minister Paul Maynard said: “We believe Britain can lead the world in the booming global rail industry but we need a modern, highly skilled workforce to achieve this. That is why this new academy is an exciting and very welcome development for the North West. We aim to create 30,000 apprenticeships across the country in road and rail by 2020. We want to attract the brightest young minds into the business and promote the cutting edge and high-technical careers on offer in today’s rail industry.”
Rail technology centre to act as a UK hub for research and development
The North West Transport Training Academy, as it will be known, will act as a UK centre for research and development, providing training in engineering, manufacturing, project management and other vital transport sector skills, upskilling the existing workforce as well as supporting apprentices and new graduates for the rail industry.
In the immediate future, Alstom will use the centre to carry out essential maintenance work including re-painting the Pendolino fleet of 56 Class 390 ‘tilting’ trains used by Virgin on the West Coast Main Line.
Cllr Rob Polhill, leader of Halton Borough Council, said: “We are delighted Alstom are on site in Widnes. This is fantastic news for Halton and the Liverpool City Region. Alstom plans to create hundreds of high quality jobs and training opportunities, and the new training academy is a fantastic opportunity for local people. The Council has been striving for many years to get the site connected to nearby rail infrastructure. Not only will Alstom use that rail connection but they are investing in their own on-site rail infrastructure too.”