Gordon Wakeford: The rail industrial revolution

Source: RTM April/May 2018

Gordon Wakeford, managing director of the Siemens Mobility Division, explains how the company plans to make Yorkshire the base for the new UK rail industrial revolution.

The prosperity of the Northern Powerhouse is crucial to the growth of UK plc, and a vital element of our economic future. It’s a hub of booming industries, leading universities and skilled talent that helps the UK to compete on the world stage. And this year, Siemens announced how it plans to play its role in driving economic growth there.

March 2018 saw Siemens make a major announcement that it has signed a long-term agreement for lease of land in Goole, East Riding of Yorkshire, with plans to build a new state-of-the-art factory to manufacture and commission trains.

The plans are for phased development to start later this year if investment conditions are met, and if Siemens is successful in winning major future orders. The 67-acre site – equivalent in size to 40 football pitches – could see some impressive investment of up to £200m, employing up to 700 people in skilled engineering and manufacturing roles, in addition to the 250 people who would be needed for the construction phase.

With Goole as Siemens’ manufacturing base, there is the potential to not only transform the rail sector and the north of England, but the UK as a whole. We have already helped to reinvigorate the Humber region through our work in building blades for the off-shore wind sector. This is demonstrating how investment can positively impact local communities through the creation of jobs and opportunities in local supply chains.

Goole 02-6-zest

Our experience in the region has taught us a lot about the huge talent that is ready and waiting to be utilised in Yorkshire. There is a thriving industrial sector already in place, supported by world-leading universities and a skilled workforce. It’s from this existing set of manufacturing, digital and engineering talent that we hope to draw on in creating new, high-quality jobs.

We want to replicate this industry-leading experience with our work in rail. We have already been instrumental in a number of the UK’s most important and iconic rail projects – from our work developing Eurostar’s new e320 trains, the fastest high-speed train in service in the UK, to the re-signalling of the Victoria Line. Thanks to our work on this, since May 2017 the line has seen a train every 100 seconds at peak time. The next roll-out from Siemens will see the completion of delivery of 115 state-of-the-art Class 700 trains for Thameslink.

2018 is the Year of the Engineer, and with an unprecedented number of exciting rail projects on the horizon, now is an exciting time for the sector. The proposed factory has the potential to not only help in the drive to connect some of the UK’s great northern cities but to push for further rail innovation. The rolling stock that could be built at Goole could be at the forefront of revolutionising high-speed transport, including HS2.

As part of our announcement, the transport secretary, Chris Grayling, joined us in Goole where he praised our plans as being evidence of the government’s push to boost the modernisation of northern transport.

The scope and scale of the plans for this development have the potential to create some 1,700 indirect jobs throughout the UK supply chain, in addition to a boost to the local economy. The Northern Powerhouse offers not just an opportunity to deliver economic benefits to the north of England, but a chance to reinvigorate industries, such as Siemens has done with wind power, and hopes to do with rail. We hope that our plans for Goole will help restart the UK’s rail heritage and start the next rail industrial revolution.




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