Train building could return to Scotland for the first time in decades with Spanish firm Talgo looking at possible sites for a factory.
Officials were meeting the Scottish Government’s Transport Scotland agency and Scottish Enterprise last night to discuss the plans.
At least 600 jobs are expected to be created, with the factory scheduled to open around 2020. Talgo said possible sites include at Hunterston on the Ayrshire coast or the former Longannet Power Station site on the Forth in Fife.
They are adjacent to or near deep water ports for the import of materials and export of completed trains.
ScotRail is about to introduce two new fleets, so any built by Talgo are likely to be for other parts of the UK, or Europe, at least initially.
The Spanish company is also looking at possible locations south of the Border for its first UK factory.
Jon Veitch, Talgo’s key UK and Ireland account manager, said the availability of skilled staff, such as in engineering, would also count in Scotland’s favour. The company, based near Madrid, specialises in high-speed trains, which operate in countries such as Spain and Saudi Arabia.
It has said that trains for HS2, which are due to run between London and northern England and on to Edinburgh and Glasgow in a decade’s time, must be built in the UK.
However, it is also looking for opportunities to build other types of trains, and get involved in associated work such as the refurbishment of rolling stock. Richard Clinnick, assistant editor of Rail magazine, said: “Talgo looking to build trains in Scotland can only be a good thing.
“It not only recognises the opportunities that can be afforded by bringing its factory here, but it also understands the skills available via the Scottish workforce.
“Its president has told me of the ambition to create apprenticeships in whichever region it decides to build the factory in, which bodes well for a long-term future. Even if it is not building trains, Talgo wants to enter the UK train market through refurbishments and other engineering practices, and is set to be here for the long-term.
“Through a wide range of meetings, it is learning what is needed for the UK.”
The last passenger trains were built in Scotland more than 30 years ago by Walter Alexander in Falkirk.
Some locomotives were made by Andrew Barclay Sons & Co in Kilmarnock until the 1990s, although volume production ended in 1923, at the St Rollox works in Glasgow.
Hitachi has opened a factory at Newton Aycliffe in County Durham, which is building Class 385 electric trains for ScotRail and Azumas for Virgin Trains East Coast.
In addition, Bombardier has a plant in Derby and CAF is opening one at Newport in Wales.
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