News story

New state of the art rail training academy now open

National Training Academy for Rail opens its doors, offering students the use of cutting-edge technology while they learn.

Claire Perry
  • Rail Minister Claire Perry opens new £7 million National Training Academy for Rail in Northampton, 50% funded by government
  • government’s ambitious rail and road investment plan set to create thousands of high quality new jobs
  • new world-class facility is important step towards co-ordinated national network of colleges and training academies, promised by government

Britain’s multi-million pound National Training Academy for Rail (NTAR) was opened by Rail Minister Claire Perry today, Tuesday 20 October 2015.

This new world-class facility will train thousands of students using the latest digital, 3D and virtual reality equipment - giving them the hi-tech skills they need to work in the rail industry.

Rail is a growing 21st century industry, benefitting from record levels of government investment. NTAR will be a new national hub for rail engineering excellence and will train the next generation of highly skilled rail technicians, engineers and managers, who will help provide the passenger transport of the future.

The government has provided 50% of the £7 million funding for NTAR, with the rest coming from rolling stock manufacturer Siemens.

Rail Minister Claire Perry said:

We are working closely with the transport industry to bring a sustained and lasting legacy of skills and opportunity for people across the UK. The opening of the National Training Academy for Rail is a major milestone towards delivering a network of transport infrastructure skills colleges and training academies.

The government is investing billions of pounds in rail and road projects, which will create thousands of exciting new job opportunities. More and more of these jobs are cutting-edge, highly technical and require Britain’s best minds. This new facility – and more like it – are just what the country needs to ensure we develop a workforce with the advanced skills required to build a transport network fit for the future.

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Skills Minister Nick Boles said:

This academy will help provide the skilled workforce industry needs as we embark upon one of the UK’s biggest ever investments in new rail infrastructure.

Industry-led training will ensure that learners are getting the skills employers want, while many rail firms have also designed new apprenticeship standards for roles like rail engineering technician to deliver the skills needed for UK rail to expand here and internationally.

Jobs in the rail industry increasingly require a digital skillset. With modern rolling stock technicians using laptops instead of spanners and digital signalling systems operated from the inside of cabs, NTAR will give students the skills they need to perform these vital, high-quality roles.

Facilities at NTAR include the latest digital signalling equipment, a de-constructed train and a virtual reality and 3D simulation room, where students can use Oculus Rift headsets to understand how different components work.

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Managing Director of Siemens Rail Systems UK Steve Scrimshaw said:

Together with the National Skills Academy for Rail Engineering (NSARE), the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) and the Department for Transport (DfT), Siemens has invested in creating NTAR to make sure the UK rail industry has the skills and expertise necessary to meet the future demands of this exciting and dynamic industry. I am looking forward to welcoming not only our staff and apprentices but the wider industry being trained at NTAR.

General Manager at NTAR Simon Rennie said:

Our ambition is to be recognised as an international Centre of Excellence for training in traction and rolling stock and to be the source of pride for the rail industry. We want to act as a flagship for skills development and for collaborative working, delivering a successful and sustainable model.

Chief Executive Officer of NSARE Neil Robertson said:

The UK rail industry is at an exciting juncture, with many projects creating thousands of jobs across the country. The skills shortage in the industry remains a challenge, with far too few young people dreaming of an engineering career, and fewer yet looking to specialise in rail. The well documented ageing workforce and significant technological advancements in our industry prove that there is a clear need for NTAR.

Developing a co-ordinated national network of transport infrastructure skills colleges and training academies is one of the key aims of the government’s transport and infrastructure skills strategy.

This summer, Crossrail chair Terry Morgan CBE was appointed by the government to develop the strategy, which will also set out how the government will deliver on its ambition to create 30,000 apprenticeships in roads and rail over the next 5 years.

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Published 20 October 2015