Widnes Rail Technology Centre Construction Work Starts
A Goverment minister has viewed the start of construction work at a vast rail technology centre and training academy in Widnes which could create up to 600 jobs.
Rail minister Paul Maynard attended a ground-breaking ceremony at the Alstom site in Halebank today. Halton Council approved planning permission for the site – known as HBC Field – in May.
Alstom has invested around £20m – or €25m – in the development, which is due to open in May 2017. Halton Council leader Rob Polhill 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.”
The technology centre and academy could offer a total of 15,000 days of training each year. The first project to be delivered at the rail technology centre is re-painting the Pendolino fleet of 56 Class 390 ‘tilting’ trains used by Virgin on the West Coast Main Line.
It is worth €28 million and will create 80 jobs by the time the technology centre is open next May.
Mr Maynard said: [quote font_size=”20″]
“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.”
Interim chair of the Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership Asif Hamid said: “This is fantastic news for the city region.
“Alstom’s €25m technology centre and training academy development will bring a state-of-the-art facility to Halton and create jobs and growth for generations to come.
“Their investment will contribute significantly to the city region’s advanced manufacturing sector and the regional economy as a whole. Going forward, we will continue to work closely with Alstom to support their future plans.”
Nick Crossfield, managing director for Alstom in the UK and Ireland, said that in the long term, the firm would like to build trains at the site, including the New Tube For London.
Mr Crossfield added:[quote font_size=”20”]
“Our new centre in Widnes will create hundreds of good quality jobs and apprenticeships, and boost the UK supply chain.
“Here in Widnes, we will create Alstom’s very own rail campus, bringing together our experienced team with the next generation of engineers and apprentices.
“The Government’s investment in the railways offers the UK a once-in-a-generation opportunity to completely transform the passenger experience, and at Alstom we want to build the trains that will deliver that.”