UK: Spanish rolling stock manufacturer CAF confirmed to Railway Gazette on July 14 that it is preparing to open a UK assembly plant to support the contracts it has won in recent months.

The company says it intends to establish facilities ‘to carry out rolling stock assembly and testing, as well as maintenance’. These will be supported by a new headquarters ‘at a strategic point on the Northern network’. CAF Rail UK currently has a base in Coventry, and has started recruiting technical and management personnel; it expects to announce details of the new facilities ‘in the coming months’.

Last year CAF signed a €200m contract to supply 75 coaches for Caledonian Sleeper services between London and Scotland, which are due for delivery in 2018. In January, the company signed a €740m deal with Eversholt Rail Group and Arriva Rail North to supply 43 Civity EMUs and 55 DMUs for the Northern franchise. This was followed in May by contracts from Eversholt and Beacon Rail to supply 12 EMUs and 66 push-pull coaches for FirstGroup’s TransPennine Express franchise.

The TPE deal includes a separate €310m agreement under which CAF will provide technical support and spare parts management until 2023. To this end, the company committed to establishing a dedicated Spares Supply & Management Logistics Centre to support train maintenance and servicing in various locations.

While the assembly plant is initially intended to deliver existing contracts, CAF says it is looking to win further orders to sustain the business in the longer term. The company was shortlisted in January for a contract to supply around 50 EMUs for the Merseyrail network in Liverpool, for which a preferred bidder is expected to be announced towards the end of this year.

CAF has been active in the UK market since the 1990s, when it built EMUs for Heathrow Express and West Yorkshire. In 2002 and 2008 it supplied DMUs for Translink in Northern Ireland under contracts which include 15 years of maintenance support. It has also built trams for Edinburgh and Birmingham, and currently has a workforce of around 200 employees across the country.