UK's Department for Transport has opened Alstom's new Academy for Rail in Widnes, Cheshire, which is set to train 500 apprentices over the next five years.
Alstom is expected to take on 20 new apprentices later this year as part of the initiative, as well as offer additional 30 apprenticeship places to its existing staff.
The number of available apprenticeships is slated to increase to 135 by 2021.
Inaugurating the academy, UK 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, which will help train up the next generation of talent.
“We are investing £13bn in transport across the North and there are some great, rewarding careers working on our railways.”
The Alstom Academy for Rail will provide comprehensive training for young people and mature employees, as well as work with other education providers to deliver its apprenticeship programmes.
Alstom UK & Ireland managing director Nick Crossfield said: “In year one the Alstom Academy for Rail will train 20 apprentices, five of whom have been taken on to help repaint the iconic Pendolino trains right here in Widnes.”
The 56 repainted trains will be used by Virgin on the West Coast Main Line network.
The apprentice programme will also train the students to learn about the safety and maintenance of vehicles, including the Pendolino trains used on the West Coast Mainline and the Citadis trams that are used in Nottingham.
Image: UK Transport Secretary Chris Grayling interacts with apprentices in the new academy. Photo: courtesy of Crown copyright.