Spanish train manufacturer, Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles (CAF) has announced plans to open a £30m production factory in Newport, a site expected to employ up to 300 workers by 2019.
CAF said that it hopes in the near future to be making trains for the South Wales Metro in Newport, a place, where for decades steel was made from raw materials and then rolled at the steelworks, and which provides links to roads, rail and important ports.
The company, headquartered in Spain’s Basque Country, has a turnover of more than £1bn and employs about 7,000 people worldwide. CAF has built trains for the Heathrow Express in London, and is also in the bidding process for new London Underground trains. And it has confirmed an interest to tender for the HS2-high-speed line that, in the first phase, will link London and Birmingham, and has also supplied trams to Edinburgh and Birmingham.
Newport council leader Debbie Wilcox said about CAF’s investment: “It was almost like a phoenix rising from the ashes, seeing this company here building the skills for the 21st Century. It’s absolutely fantastic that we are bringing a manufacturing base back into what was the extremely complex and diverse manufacturing base of the steelworks.”
The new facility in Newport, on the old Llanwern steelworks site, will be more than 46,000 sqm in size and is set to employ 200 people when it opens – rising to 300 by 2019, which is quite a turnaround for the site and it will have cheered many in the area – a community brought up on steel and the industries that use it.
Although CAF intended bidding for a contract to provide the South Wales Metro with rolling stock, the company’s long-term future in Newport wasn’t solely dependent on getting the contract to provide new trains to whoever runs the next Wales and Borders franchise, or on the M4 relief road being built, according to the company’s UK director, Richard Garner.
The jobs boost for south east Wales comes weeks after the welsh government rejected a £210m plea to help build the Circuit of Wales in Ebbw Vale, Blaenau Gwent.