Birmingham’s new high speed rail college took delivery of a refurbished Eurostar power car - to be used as a virtual classroom for developing the next generation of train engineers.
The recently retired 25-tonne power car, which has during its working life whisked more than 160 million passengers from London to Paris and Brussels at speeds of more than 180mph, has been generously donated to the college by Alstom and Eurostar.
It has taken up pride of place at the new High Speed Rail College at Eastside.
The engine – part of the classic original e300/ Class 373, or Trans Manche Super Train which were originally built in Birmingham, France and Belgium - arrived on the back of a low loader truck and was winched into place on a 700-metre length of rail track which had previously been donated to the college by British Steel.
It has been refurbished by Alstom and given a new lick of paint to the bright pink livery of the college, which starts training apprentices next month ready for the construction of the HS2 line. Inside the apprentices will use VR headsets to find out how the trains are put together.
The has also received a bogie – the wheel set for a carriage - donated by Lucchini Unipart Rail Limited. Businesses Van Elle and Rhomberg Sersa were instrumental in providing and arranging the transportation of this piece of equipment.
The new college was built to fill a massive skills gap in rail engineering at a time when the UK is looking to massively expand its High Speed Rail network across the country. It has already created the UK’s first Certificate of Higher Education (CHE) in High Speed Rail and Infrastructure, which people in the West Midlands can now apply for.
College chief executive Clair Mowbray said: “This latest addition to our Birmingham campus has arrived just as learners across the region are processing their A-level results. For those who are currently looking at clearing options or haven’t yet decided their next steps, the new power car is symbolic of the smart alternative that the college offers to university; an opportunity to forge an exciting career in creating Britain’s 21st Century rail network.
“The best way to educate Britain’s future engineers and provide the world-class skills needed to reduce the national skills shortage, is to grant learners access to the kind of apparatus they will become familiar with when they go out to work for businesses in the field. The new power car will be used as a classroom and is also going to incorporate a virtual reality set-up, so that we can respond to industry needs and project different engineering configurations within the cabin.”
The college hosts a clearing event from 2-4pm on Thursday 24 August for prospective students looking to sign up for the remaining places.
Jason Baldock, HS2 Director at Alstom UK & Ireland, said: “It’s a proud moment for all of us today as the UK’s first very high speed train arrives in Birmingham with its stunning new livery. When we first built these iconic trains in Birmingham, France and Belgium, we knew they would be a success, but nobody imagined they would have an inspiring legacy like this after retirement, supporting the next generation of UK rail engineers.”