THE first fleet of more than 50 trains for HS2 could be built on the site of a disused power station in Fife.
Spanish rolling stock manufacturer Talgo says if it wins a £2.75 billion contract to supply the Phase 1 high speed trains it will employ 1,000 people on the site at Longannet, between Alloa and Dunfermline, which was the last coal-fired power station in Scotland when it closed in 2016.
Talgo is only one of five bidders for the first HS2 rolling stock contract.
Some foreign rolling stock manufacturers have already built or promised to build new factories in England and Wales to construct other fleets. These include the recent go-ahead for a Siemens site in Goole, after the plan survived a legal challenge to Transport for London’s award of a £1.5 billion tube train contract.
The decision about the first HS2 trains will not be made until 2020, but the possibility has been welcomed by Scottish politicians and business leaders.
Mark Russell, Scottish Green Party MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife, said the fact that the site remains rail-connected was very important.
‘The end of the coal age can be the beginning of a vibrant, low carbon industry in central Scotland and Talgo's commitment to 1,000 new jobs will be transformative,’ he said. ‘The rail infrastructure in place was key to the company choosing this site, and I'm excited to see how this can pave the way for more innovative and ambitious freight and passenger rail in Scotland.’
His Parliamentary colleague, SNP member for Dunfermline and West Fife Shirley-Anne Somerville, agreed it was ‘excellent news’. She continued: ‘This new facility will bring huge opportunities for local economic development, and has the potential to bring hundreds of new jobs to West Fife. Talgo will be well placed to tap into a skilled local workforce, and benefit from excellent links to the rest of the country.’
ScottishPower said: ‘It is great news that Talgo has selected Longannet. The decision recognises the geographic, infrastructure and transport benefits the site offers, and could potentially lead to significant employment and economic benefits for the local area.’