Shadow Transport Secretary, Lilian Greenwood, visited Newcastle College’s Rail Academy today to highlight the importance of the growth of the rail engineering in the North East.
The Shadow Minister travelled to the region with Labour MP, Alan Johnson and Paul Brannen, MEP as part of the campaign to encourage voters to remain in the EU; but took time out to visit the Rail Academy to see how it is supporting growth in the rail industry through skills and training.
During the visit, Ms Greenwood met with students looking to develop careers in rail engineering and toured the £5 million facility which features indoor and outdoor track, overhead line and signalling and telecommunications equipment.
Newcastle College, a division of national training and colleges group, NCG, developed the Academy in response to ambitious plans to create a ‘truly world class rail network’.
Developed with support from the National Skills Academy for Rail (NSAR) and Network Rail, the national hub for training and development for rail engineering will help the industry address regional and national skills gaps, support further job creation and ensure the vitality of the rail sector in light of a rapidly ageing workforce.
Lilian Greenwood said: “I’ve been really impressed by what I have seen today at Newcastle College’s Rail Academy. The students are incredibly committed and realise the opportunities that they are going to get in the rail industry. You can see that local employers who are working on the railway can have access to some really skilled staff for the future.
“On the one hand students have got this fantastic facility where they can work on the railway. It’s the best I’ve seen probably up and down the country in terms of facilities, so they’ve got real hands on experience. But it’s also about the staff that they have access to – people who know what it’s like to work in the industry and can share that experience with them. It’s not theoretical, it’s incredibly practical and I think that’s really shone through on the visit today.”
Tony Lewin, Principal of Newcastle College, said: “We were delighted to welcome Ms Greenwood and Mr Johnson to the Rail Academy and have the chance to showcase the fantastic work that our staff and learners are doing to support the huge investment and growth in rail through the provision of training and skills. The Shadow Secretary has championed the resurgence of rail engineering in the region and was keen to see how the next generation of engineers and technicians are being developed.”