Arriva Rail North (Northern) is refurbishing 268 trains to a modern standard as part of a modernisation programme worth almost £100m.
The programme, which is being conducted at eight train maintenance depots across the country, has supported 180 existing jobs and led to the creation of 105 new jobs.
These highly skilled jobs cover all elements of the rebuild programme and include, electricians, bodywork engineers, computer programmers, commercial painters, textile specialists, mechanics, maintenance crews and project managers.
Each refurbished train requires the skills of around 20 different specialists.
Ben Ackroyd, Engineering Director for Northern, said: “Northern operates a large, varied fleet and, as well as introducing brand new trains, we are working to refurbish and renew around 300 trains to a modern standard.
“The refurbishment programme is significant and complex and requires the support and expertise of specialist suppliers across the north of England, as well as other parts of the UK.
“We are pleased that the £100m investment has supported and created hundreds of jobs and injected millions of pounds into the northern economy.
“I am confident customers will be pleased with the improvements that we are delivering.”
The renewal project has led to permanent employment for engineering specialists in Bicester, Bristol, Cardiff, Chatham, Crewe, Derby, Doncaster, Kilmarnock, Leeds, Loughborough, Manchester, Nottingham, Scunthorpe, Southampton, Wolverton – and even further afield in Australia.
Each refurbished train will be transformed, and customers will benefit from improved and better seating, at seat power, fully accessible toilets (including baby changing facilities), free Wi-Fi, digital customer information screens, sustainable lighting and improved CCTV.
The refurbished trains will also have new flooring and an external repaint, and on-board systems and engines will be completely overhauled to improve reliability.
Rachel Hawksworth, project manager at Leeds-based Chrysalis Rail, which specialises in train carriage refurbishment and enhancements said: “We currently have 32 people working on the Northern refurbishment programme. On site we have vehicle builders, paint sprayers, electricians, stores and logistics personnel and a project manager.
“The project has allowed us to maintain our site in Leeds and provides vital stability and longevity for our business in the north. Due to the contract we have been able to invest in colleague training and apprenticeships which means we are up-skilling our employees.
“Chrysalis originated in the north and is operating in Leeds today due to this project. So, we are delighted to be supporting Northern and helping to improve services for passengers.”
James Brown, Director of Engineering at Belvoir Rail, added: “Working with Northern on this refurbishment project has had a tremendous effect on our business.
“It has massively raised our profile within the rail industry, allowed us to expand our premises and, more importantly, has enabled us to add more employees.
“This includes people with specific skill-sets but also people with no previous skill in this area – allowing them to develop their range of abilities.
“As a result of the growth we have been able to take on other project work within the rail industry that we may not have previously considered. We have employed several new staff as a direct result.”
“I applied for the role as it seemed like a great opportunity in an industry that I had not worked in before,” said Ann Crampton, a qualified assembly technician who had previously worked in the wind turbine industry, and is now working with Belvoir on the Northern project.
“I’ve enjoyed working in a small but growing team, applying my existing knowledge base and learning more in the process. We have achieved a lot in a very small space of time and I'm proud to be a part of that.”