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Rail Academy officially opens in north east

Newcastle College’s new £5m Rail Academy has been officially opened in Gateshead, and will help secure the future of rail engineering in the north east. 

The college-run academy is the first of its kind in the country and will be a regional hub for training and development for railway engineering. 

In a pre-recorded message to mark the opening of the facility yesterday (26 March), business secretary Vince Cable said: “The Rail Academy is an important initiative that will support the government's investment in the future of the UK's rail infrastructure. 

“Developing specialist training and skills is vital in creating the next generation of rail engineers and will provide opportunities for thousands of young people to develop careers in this growing sector.” 

The Academy serves all age groups, including young people looking to develop a career in the rail sector, those wanting to change career and employers who need to up-skill their existing work force or simply recruit for future growth. 


On top of this, it will also offer a bespoke training venue to help employers up-skill existing staff, and train new staff in a safe environment. Full-time diplomas in rail engineering, suitable for all age groups, are currently available.  

Marc McPake, head of the Rail Academy, said: “The opening of the rail academy signifies the start of a new era in training for the next generation of rail engineers. I believe that what we have here is unique. 

“We are helping to develop the skills that are needed by industry today, but also creating a pipeline of skilled people with the knowledge of the state of the art equipment that we will see in the rail industry in the future.” 

The facility has been developed with support from the National Skills Academy for Railway Engineering (NSARE) and Network Rail. 


(Image: Head of Newcastle College Rail Academy Marc McPake (centre) pictured with Guy Wilmhurst Smith from Network Rail (left) and David Waboso from London Underground (right) and Rail Engineering students at the official opening.) 

Image c. North News & Pictures ltd 

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email [email protected]


Alex Nelson   27/03/2015 at 21:24

The new facility at Felling is very impressive with work space both indoors and outdoors covering signalling, electrification, and track engineering. I was astounded to learn the average age of a track worker is 55 so there is a real need for young talent to replace those retiring. I hope the Academy will be able to help apprentices on the retail side of the business gain an appreciation of the engineering side and that the students will be able to learn together. I wish the Academy every success.

Terry Kight   31/03/2015 at 09:51

British Rail always had a bad name for punctuality but it was always a first class organisation for training it's staff, especially the S.& T. Department, there is no other outside Industry which is comparable to the Signalling Department so it is great to see that since Privatisation we are now having specialist training which meets today's Railways.

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