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French multinational company Alstom has opened one of the biggest train modernisation facilities in the UK at Widnes.

The facility is spread over 13,000m2 of space and was built in accordance with ‘Industry 4.0’ principles in order to make it the ideal facility for the refurbishment of intercity trains.

The new site was inaugurated by Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Parliamentary Under Secretary of the state Lord Prior of Brampton.

Alstom will soon start work on the €28m contract to re-paint 56 Class 390 ‘tilting’ Pendolino trains at the Widnes site, which are used by Virgin on the West Coast Main Line.

The company noted that the first Pendolino train has already been delivered for modernisation.

The contract outlines plans for the use of Industry 4.0 technology, including innovative virtual reality painting simulators that the team will be trained on and subsequently use to validate the work.

Alstom Europe senior vice-president Gian-Luca Erbacci said: “Alstom is committed to the UK and this area.

“We have a team of 80 people in place to deliver our first contract, repainting the beautiful Pendolino trains and that includes five new apprentices, showing our commitment to skills.

“We want this to be just the start of our story in Widnes. We have already committed that if we win contracts like Transport for London’s Deep Tube Programme, we will build the new trains here, and we look forward to the Alstom Training Academy opening in September.”

"This new centre for manufacturing will grow local skills and create hundreds of jobs, both in Widnes and across the entire UK rail supply chain."

Alstom noted it will start recruiting people from the local area to assist with the contracted works, while the majority of the current team hired for the painting deal have come from the Liverpool city region and other local areas such as Warrington.

The 80-member repainting team includes five new apprentices who will work on the project.

Lord Prior stated: “This new centre for manufacturing will grow local skills and create hundreds of jobs, both in Widnes and across the entire UK rail supply chain.”

Alstom also reported the delivery of the new generation of Euroduplex train sets to SNCF Mobilités as part of a separate development, which are set to operate on the new Océane line between Paris and Bordeaux.

Image: Lord Prior, Business Minister, Gian-Luca Erbacci, Senior Vice President of Alstom in Europe, Nick Crossfield, Managing Director of Alstom in the UK & Ireland, with Alstom apprentices graduates and some of the local site team. Photo: © Alstom.