A new north-west rail academy has opened and is expected to train 500 apprentices over the next five years.
Opened by transport secretary, Chris Grayling, The Alstom Academy for Rail in Widnes, Cheshire, is due to take on 20 new apprentices this autumn. It will offer further 30 apprenticeship places to current Alstom staff. The numbers will rise to 135 by 2021.
The government is investing £1 billion in the Great North Rail Project up until 2020.
The Alstom Academy for Rail will be giving young people and mature employees a rounded education and will work with other education providers to deliver its apprenticeship programs.
Students will take engineering classes at local colleges such as Riverside College and then learn rail specific skills at the academy.
The training that students undertake will include safety and maintenance of vehicles such as Alstom’s Pendolino trains which are used on the West Coast Mainline, or the Citadis trams that are used in Nottingham.
Alongside the academy, Alstom are repainting 56 Pendolino trains next to the training academy in their train modernisation facility, for use by Virgin on the West Coast Main Line.
The team is 80-strong and includes five new apprentices who will work on the project.
Transport secretary Chris Grayling said: “Our rail network is growing and I have been clear we will need thousands more people working in the sector in the years ahead.
“I’m delighted to open Alstom’s top class new Rail Academy will help train up the next generation of talent.
“We are investing £13 billion in transport across the north and there are some great, rewarding careers working on our railways.”