Alstom has been granted planning permission by Halton Borough Council to acquire 30 acres of land, for the construction of a new Technology Centre at Widnes in the Liverpool area.
It is part of Alstom’s ambition to make its operations in the UK more modern and efficient to support its growth in this market, particularly in the fast growing service activities. Following the green light from the council, ground-breaking will take place before summer and construction will begin later this year.
This investment amounts to around €25 million.
Alstom will build a world-class training facility at the site, the North West Transport Training Academy, which will open in autumn 2017. It 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 across the North West.
In the immediate future, Alstom will use the centre to carry out essential maintenance work. With over half of the UK rail fleet which has passed its half-life, the centre will provide the expertise needed for maintenance and modernisation of trains.
“This new centre is part of our global strategy to grow our service activities by localising our operations close to our customers. It allows us to react much more quickly to growth in local markets. The UK is one of the most exciting places in the world for train companies like Alstom to do business, so it’s important that we run the most efficient operation possible through modern facilities with the latest technology,” said Andreas Knitter, Alstom’s Senior Vice President for Europe.
Close to Liverpool, Manchester, Chester, Preston and other rolling stock industrial bases, the site is ideally located as a North West logistics hub, featuring access to ports, railheads, motorways and airports. Importantly, it offers access to the West Coast Main Line, which will make it easier to move trains and train parts to the site.
Alstom hopes to offer a co-location space for its suppliers, which would help to drive further efficiencies in its UK operations. The Widnes site will have a focus on reliable, low carbon power sources, while the facility will be built and run to minimise impact on local residents. Alstom has an objective of reducing the energy intensity of its sites by 10% by 2020.
Alstom has been at the heart of the UK’s rail industry for over 80 years, having built around a third of the UK’s rail vehicles and around half of the trains currently running on the London Underground. Today, Alstom employs a growing workforce of 3,200 people at 12 industrial sites in the UK delivering services to operators, signalling equipment and railway infrastructure.