Local MPs and community leaders were amongst those at Accrington and Rossendale College to unveil Lancashire’s first and only rail track maintenance training facility.

Accrington and Rossendale College, a member of the Nelson and Colne College Group, has unveiled a new and unique training facility, aimed at fast-tracking locals with little to no prior experience and knowledge within rail and engineering, directly into lucrative jobs within the rail industry.

The real-to-life rail track, built on previously disused land at Accrington and Rossendale College’s Hyndburn campus, is part of a new 8-week employability programme, in partnership with Rail Futures.

Tom Gee, Head of Curriculum for Employability, Volunteering and Skills, said: “We are delighted to have officially opened our brand-new railway track here at Accrington & Rossendale College.

“The transformation of disused land into this spectacular real-to-life rail track will provide fantastic practical training for people enrolling on our 8-week rail maintenance and repair course.”

The course comprises practical skill training, which takes place at Accrington and Rossendale College on the only rail track training facility of its kind in Lancashire, alongside in class theory teaching, which mostly takes place at the Lancashire Adult Learning facility in Brierfield.

This exclusive opportunity guarantees those accepted onto the course a role within one of the numerous subgroups of National Rail as a Rail Maintenance Engineer upon the completion of their training. A role like this typically starts with a £15 an hour salary but can soon increase, with more experienced Engineers earning between £20 and £40 an hour.

The unveiling of this ground-breaking facility garnered attention from local community leaders, including Rt Hon Andrew Stephenson CBE, MP for Pendle and Rt Hon Sara Britcliffe, MP for Hyndburn and Haslingden.

Stephenson, who himself has a history within the rail industry, with both his father and grandfather working for British Rail and himself working with the Department of Transport as the Ministry of State with responsibility for HS2, had the following to say:

“It was great to be at Accrington and Rossendale College to see Sara Britcliffe, the local MP, officially open this new facility.

“Having overseen the integrated rail plan, which is a £96bn investment in the railways of the Midlands and the North, I am acutely aware that one of the key catalysts for that plan to work is ensuring there are people with the skills to deliver these major infrastructure projects. I wholeheartedly commend the work of Accrington and Rossendale College, and everybody involved in bringing together this new training centre which will provide those skills that we need for the future”

Sara Britcliffe also echoed the importance of local training facilities such as this, stating; “The railway track is the first of its kind in the area and we are proud to have such a unique tool here in Hyndburn.

“The Railway Maintenance Programme, also the first of its kind in Lancashire, is aimed at fast-tracking unemployed adults aged 19+ into well-paid, skilled careers for life within the railway industry, which is a wonderful opportunity for our local people.”

The new course will run from the 27th of February, with the College now taking enquiries from all who are interested. Similar projects to this up and down the country have seen participants progress onto well-paid roles, not only within rail maintenance but also railway civils, the construction trade, welding and manufacturing.

To enquire about this course, or any of the other programmes available through Accrington and Rossendale College, you can visit their site at https://www.accross.ac.uk/ or call their friendly team on 01280 440272.