£7m Rail Academy opens in Northampton

The new National Training Academy for Rail (NTAR) has opened in Northampton, providing a centre of learning that will focus on the development of digital skills.

Unveiled by Rail Minister Claire Perry, the £7m academy has received 50 per cent of its funding from the UK government. Rail is becoming an increasingly digitised industry, and 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 aid their learning. 

UK Rail Minister Claire Perry alongside other officials at the opening.
UK Rail Minister Claire Perry officially opened the academy on Tuesday. 

“The government is investing billions of pounds in rail and road projects, which will create thousands of exciting new job opportunities,” said Perry.

“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.”

According to the Department for Transport, developing colleges and academies to support UK road and rail is a central part of the government’s transport and infrastructure skills strategy. It says there are plans in place to create 30,000 apprenticeships in these industries over the next five years, and Crossrail chair Terry Morgan was appointed over the summer to help implement this strategy.

“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,” said Skills Minister Nick Boles.

“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.”