NEWCASTLE College is helping to secure the future of rail engineering in the North-East by investing millions in a world-class training facility.

The Rail Academy in Gateshead will be a regional hub for railway infrastructure engineering – a major sector of growth and a priority area of investment for Government.

It comes as train builder Hitachi prepares a revised bid to set up a university technical college (UTC) to train workers for its factory in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham.

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The scheme is being led by the University of Sunderland, and engineer Gestamp Tallent to create a centre of excellence to produce skilled engineers. The Government rejected a similar bid in January, but hopes are high that ministers will approve the latest submission. 

The Newcastle College Rail Academy has been designed to respond to the Government’s ambitious plans to create a world-class rail network.  

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

Located near to Heworth Metro station, the Academy is due to open in September.

The facility has been designed by Newcastle-based Ryder Architecture and will feature training rooms and workshops as well as industry standard equipment, such as track and junction boxes.

Robin Ghurbhurun, deputy principal at Newcastle College said: “There are incredible changes taking place in the rail sector and our investment in the Rail Academy will help to put the region on the map in terms of world-class training and skills for the railway engineering sector.

"The Government has committed to spending billions to upgrade the rail network in the next 20 to 30 years creating thousands of job opportunities, so it is critical that the industry has access to the very best training and higher level skills.

“Our investment in the Rail Academy is very exciting and will support the Government with its plans to bring rail into the 21st Century. We have worked with a number of partners to establish what the likely demand for skills support would be to support this infrastructure, not only in the North East but nationally.

"As a result of this, Newcastle College and its parent company, NCG have made a significant commitment in what we believe to be a fantastic development for Gateshead and a centre of excellence for rail engineering across the country. It will be a hub for the North East and a first for the region in terms of rail engineering.

“The Rail Academy will be a gateway to employment and skills, not a destination for courses. It is a demonstration of our continued intention to invest in world-class training and facilities that support the STEM agenda and emerging industry sectors where we believe that there are opportunities for employment.

"By working in close partnership with employers and industry partners, we will form part of the supply chain that enables these industries to grow and prosper and provide more opportunities for local people. This is our commitment today and will continue to be our commitment to the future prosperity of the region.”

NSARE’s chief executive, Gil Howarth, said “NSARE is proud to support this excellent initiative which will provide a centre of excellence for railway engineering training in the North East.  It is vital that we attract young people into our buoyant industry - we need a highly competent  workforce  to support record levels of investment.”