The French train company Alstom is to build a new multimillion-pound plant in the north-west of England, delivering a major boost to the region during a time of uncertainty for the UK.
Alstom will spend an initial £20m on a new site at Widnes, Cheshire, creating about 600 jobs. The facility will modernise the Pendolino trains on the west coast mainline and contain a training academy, but it could eventually manufacture new rolling stock if Alstom wins a contract to produce trains for London Underground or HS2.
Nick Crossfield. The managing director of Alstom for UK and Ireland, said the French company is “fundamentally committed” to the UK market. He also described HS2 as an “incredibly important and transformational investment” for the UK. Crossfield said the investment in Widnes represented a “step change” for Alstom’s approach to the UK. The 30-acre site is due to open next year. The facility will grow “according to the opportunities that we win”, Crossfield added, and is a “foothold that provides us with a base to expand even further”.
Alstom has confirmed it will bid to build the trains for HS2 and unveiled plans for double-decker carriages. It is also bidding for the New Tube for London contract, which is worth up to £2.5bn and involves designing and building 250 next-generation trains for the Piccadilly, Bakerloo, Central and Waterloo & City lines in London. Crossfield said that even if the government scrapped HS2, which is estimated to cost more than £40bn, it “would not change the investment perspective for us here in the UK because there is a very significant and healthy domestic rolling stock market”.