UK: What Alstom describes as ‘the largest and most sophisticated’ rolling stock refurbishment facility in the UK was officially opened in Widnes on June 29 by Lord Prior of Brampton, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy.

At its new 13000 m2 plant, Alstom is due to begin work shortly on a €28m contract to repaint the 56 Class 390 Pendolino trainsets operated by Virgin Trains West Coast, with the first trainset already delivered to Widnes. The 80-strong repainting team have mostly been recruited from the Liverpool city region and the surrounding area, and includes five apprentices. Alstom said ‘Industry 4.0’ features of the contract include the use of virtual reality painting simulators to train the staff.

‘This new centre for manufacturing will grow local skills, create hundreds of jobs both in Widnes and across the entire UK rail supply chain’, said Lord Brampton. ‘This long-term investment marks Alstom’s commitment to the future of the sector in the UK.’

‘Alstom is committed to the UK and this area’, said Gian-Luca Erbacci, Senior Vice-President of Alstom in Europe. ‘We want this to be just the start of our story in Widnes’, he added, noting that Alstom had already made a commitment to build new rolling stock for the UK market at Widnes, if it were successful in tenders such as Transport for London’s Deep Tube Upgrade Programme (formerly known as New Tube for London).