Rail firm creates 37 new jobs thanks to grant funding
Almost 40 new jobs have been created at a Doncaster rail firm, thanks to a grant from the Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).
This is part of a wider move by Doncaster, and the Sheffield City Region LEP, to build on the town’s reputation for engineering excellence and become a national centre of expertise for the UK rail industry and HS2.
From its base in Balby, close to the town’s East Coast mainline railway station, Unipart Rail provides a bogie overhaul service to companies from across the world.
Unipart Rail overhauls bogies – or wheeled wagons – that have travelled between 500,000 and 1.2m miles, by replacing their electrics, renewing brake system components and using heavy engineering skills such as welding. The bogie is then returned and refitted to the vehicles to service the UK rail network.
Unipart Rail recently received a grant of £112,500 from the LEP’s Regional Growth Fund (RGF), towards a £750,000 investment which has enabled it to create 37 new jobs.
As a result, the company has been able to expand its facilities and take on new contracts from European and Japanese industry giants such as Siemens and Hitachi.
Shaun Taylor, Financial Controller at Unipart Rail, said:
“Our expertise is expanding to cover all bogie types, working to the exacting standards and engineering specifications laid down by the industry.
“Clearly, passenger and freight rail is highly safety-critical, so quality is of the upmost importance. Engineering integrity is at the centre of all work we carry out, which requires experienced, competent, engineering staff.
“I am delighted that this grant from the LEP has enabled us to access all the funding we need to take on new staff and grow our business. Originally, we thought we’d be able to recruit 32 new staff members, but we have in fact outperformed this original goal and have taken on 37 people, allowing us to expand our overhaul facilities.
“This is great news not just in terms of the additional jobs, but in light of what’s happening across Doncaster with the town becoming a future international leader in rail engineering. Unipart will have a really important role to play in the coming years.”
On average, a bogie will be in service for up to 40 years, but will be overhauled every five to seven years in order to ensure the safety of rail passengers.
European and Japanese manufacturers, such as Siemens and Hitachi, are currently the fastest-growing vehicle suppliers to the UK rail industry.
Unipart Rail has already had success in winning business with these firms and has serviced their requirements from its facility in Doncaster.
However, the company’s ultimate aspiration is to be the preferred long term partner for bogie overhaul for both vehicle suppliers.
Unipart Rail’s expansion is part of a wider investment in expertise in the rail industry in Doncaster, supported by organisations including the LEP, Doncaster Council and the authority’s Business Doncaster team.
Mayor of Doncaster, Ros Jones, said:
“We have an enviable cluster of rail and engineering companies and Unipart Rail is just one of those firms enjoying considerable growth and recruiting new people into the rail industry. The Sheffield City Region LEP’s Regional Growth Fund is helping to lever in new investment which is delivering jobs.
“With the National High Speed Rail College set to be the catalyst for further economic growth, Doncaster is cementing its position as the UK’s home of rail and providing local people with opportunities to build successful and rewarding careers in an expanding sector.”
It was announced last month that Doncaster and Birmingham will be the new home for the National High Speed Rail College, which will create the rail engineering expertise ready to meet the needs of the £42bn HS2 project.
Simon Carr, board member of the Sheffield City Region LEP and Managing Director of Henry Boot Construction, said:
“In Sheffield City Region, we view the national college as the next chapter in the renaissance of the UK rail industry, with Doncaster positioned to be at the centre of this.
“The new college will be an economic boon to Doncaster and the wider region – bringing £150m to the local economy annually as the students trained at the college help local rail businesses expand and new businesses move in.
“It will offer local people, including our school leavers, the chance to gain high-level engineering skills leading to well-paid jobs that will be in high demand for years to come.”
Sheffield City Region’s long-term goal is for Doncaster to become an international centre of rail engineering excellence – attracting students, staff and investment from around the world.
The grant funding for Unipart has come from the LEP’s “Unlocking Business Investment” programme, which has seen £32m in central Government funding allocated to the city region.
Earlier this year, it was announced that the Sheffield City Region had secured a £320m “growth deal” from the Government, which will create more than 28,000 jobs and training for 40,000 people.
This is the fifth-largest sum to be secured of the 39 LEPs within the country. As part of the Sheffield City Region Growth Deal, the LEP secured a further £49.5m of Regional Growth Fund money from Government. From April 2015, this funding will be used to support businesses to invest and grow.