A MULTI-MILLION-POUND transport investment is set to create up to 100 jobs.

Siemens has won a multi-million-pound contract from Network Rail to upgrade the UK’s fleet of freight trains to make them safer, make better use of the network, and provide greater flexibility with timetables.

The work, which will be undertaken at Siemens Eastleigh Train Depot is part of Network Rails £450m national ‘digital railway programme’ which will see freight trains improved with “delay-busting digital technology” and will create between 75 and 100 new jobs at Eastleigh.

The programme will be one of the world’s biggest ETCS retro-fit programmes, an on-board solution for freight locomotives which ensures trains always operate within safe limits and speeds, providing safe movement authority directly and continuously to the driver through a driver’s display.

The ECTS system permits the driver to operate the train, but should a set speed limit be exceeded, or be in danger of being exceeded, then the on-board equipment intervenes to control the train, bringing it to stand if necessary.

The contract will see Siemens working with Network Rail and the six Freight Operating Companies (FOCs) and will see 750 freight trains refurbished.

Chris Grayling, Secretary of State for Transport said: “We are making the biggest investment in the railways since Victorian times and this includes £450m for integrating digital technology on our railways.

"This technology has huge potential to improve journeys for passengers and to boost our freight industry by cutting delays and increasing the number of services.”

Rob Morris, managing director of Siemens Rail Automation in the UK said: “We are delighted to be working closely with Network Rail and the Freight Operating Companies (FOCs) on this landmark digital railway project, which will ultimately be one of the largest ETCS on-board retrofit programmes in the UK.

"This solution will allow the freight operating companies to continue to safely deliver a reliable service as ETCS technology continues to be rolled-out across the UK.

"Having proven our equipment and delivery capabilities in a number of similar projects in Europe, our experienced teams are now looking forward to working collaboratively with Network Rail and the freight operating companies to deliver this digital railway project."

It comes after an enhancement programme was announced by SWR after they signed contracts with Siemens to refurbish its fleet of 172 Class 444 and 450 Desiro trains at Eastleigh Works last year, creating 200 new jobs.

Councillor Derek Pretty, cabinet lead for Economy at Eastleigh Borough Council, said: "I am delighted that Network Rail and Siemens are providing significant investment in the Borough of Eastleigh that contributes to the economic prosperity of the town and will also provide around 75 new high technology engineering jobs for the area.

"Eastleigh town has a rich railway heritage and it’s great that Eastleigh Works will now receive this investment and play a key role in helping to modernise the industry by integrating digital technology to make our railways fit for the 21st century."

Mims Davies, Eastleigh MP, said: “I am delighted that, through the Government’s £450 million scheme to continue modernising our railways, we can expect to see up to 100 skilled new jobs coming to Eastleigh.

“It is excellent news that by making our railways safer and more efficient, the Government is also investing locally in the Eastleigh economy and continuing to create great new jobs in our area.”

Work will start in 2022.


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e: richard.percival@dailyecho.co.uk