Alstom targets summer start for £40m maintenance base

Alstom Transport has been granted planning permission for a train engineering and maintenance facility in Widnes of up to 550,000 sq ft, on a 30-acre site being acquired from Halton Council.

Halton Council submitted a planning application on behalf of Alstom in November 2015, outlining a phased plan for the 80-acre HBC Fields site in Halebank, near to the West Coast railway mainline.

The site is included as part of the Mersey Multi Modal Gateway strategic development plan, formulated in 2000 and known as 3MG.

The facility would build on Alstom’s involvement in the UK rail market where it offers warehousing, component manufacturing, repair and modernisation services for intercity, regional and metro trains.

The project majors on the construction of a new 300,000 sq ft Technology Centre, with access from rail and road, to house engineering operations, alongside a substation, service yards and HGV parking.

Alstom is yet to appoint a contractor, but said that groundbreaking would take place before summer and construction would begin later this year

The facility will also include a North West Transport Training Academy, which will open in autumn 2017.

Alstom will use the centre to carry out essential maintenance work, and also hopes to offer a co-location space for its suppliers. 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.

Later phases would include an 80,000 sq ft extension to the service yard, followed by an 180,000 sq ft warehouse.

The application was prepared by RPS Group for Halton Council.

Andreas Knitter, Alstom’s senior vice president for Europe, said: “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.”

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Good to see a major rail vehicle constructor investing in the North West – we’ve needed something like this ever since the demise of the Vulcan site – now a housing estate.

By John Webster

Exciting times: rail engineering, training, development, and all the wonderful spin-off tings that come with that.

By Mizzer