French rail tech com­pany re­ceived £5m pub­lic cash

Runcorn & Widnes Weekly News - - Front Page - BY JOHN MCDOUGALL john.mcdougall@trin­i­tymir­ @JMacD1988

FUND­ING worth £5m was granted to help de­velop a rail tech­nol­ogy cen­tre cur­rently be­ing built in Widnes.

Min­utes for a meet­ing of the Liver­pool City Re­gion Com­bined Au­thor­ity have been pub­lished.

One of the items con­cerned the busi­ness case for the trans­port tech­nol­ogy cen­tre which is be­ing con­structed in Hale­bank by French train maker Al­stom.

The fa­cil­ity could even­tu­ally pro­vide up to 600 jobs and will also of­fer up to 15,000 days of train­ing each year through an academy.

The item sought up to £5m to be al­lo­cated from a Lo­cal Growth Fund.

A re­port to the meet­ing said: “The Com­bined Au­thor­ity is ● sat­is­fied with the ap­praisal of the full busi­ness case and that the scheme of­fers value for money. Based on the out­come of the in­de­pen­dent ap­praisal of the full busi­ness case for Al­stom Trans­port Tech­nol­ogy Cen­tre, this re­port seeks ap­proval of the Com­bined Au­thor­ity to grant fund­ing to a to­tal of £5m be­ing made avail­able to the scheme.”

An ex­ec­u­tive sum­mary from Amion Con­sult­ing at­tached to the re­port said that a ‘rea­son­able case ex­ists’ to pro­vide the fund­ing and that the de­vel­op­ment would sup­port ‘more sus­tain­able’ em­ploy­ment and ‘high value’ jobs.

The meet­ing’s min­utes said that the chair wel­comed the re­port and ac­knowl­edged that the pro­posal would de­liver a ‘sig­nif­i­cant in­vest­ment’ for the area.

The fa­cil­ity is due to open in May af­ter con­struc­tion be­gan in Oc­to­ber 2015.

The site was vis­ited last month by Hal­ton MP Derek Twigg and Labour can­di­date for the Liver­pool City Re­gion’s metro mayor Steve Rotheram.

The first project that Al­stom will de­liver at the new site will be re-paint­ing the fleet of 56 Pen­dolino Class 390 ‘tilt­ing’ trains used by Vir­gin on the West Coast Main Line and will em­ploy 80 peo­ple.

Trans­port Sec­re­tary Chris Grayling also said last year that Al­stom plans to bid for HS2 con­tracts from the Widnes fa­cil­ity.

The Al­stom rail hub

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