Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris MP has opened the first phase of a new eco-friendly track maintenance depot which serves the West Coast main line.
The £4.5 million project by Network Rail is being built in two phases and will be complete in 2023. When both phases are finished, the Northampton depot will become the first net-zero carbon ‘Maintenance Delivery Unit’ on the railway network, thanks largely to a large array of solar panels which will eventually provide the depot’s electricity and power to charge electric vehicles.
Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris MP said at the opening: “A modern railway needs modern infrastructure, and I am delighted to have opened the new track maintenance depot in Northampton.
“We’re also focused on making our railways even greener, and it’s fantastic that Network Rail are leading the charge with a self-powered depot built for the future.”
James Dean, Network Rail’s West Coast South route director, added: “This new depot demonstrates our commitment to jobs in Northampton, our dedication to supporting a green recovery and most importantly to providing passengers with a reliable railway.
“This investment will give our staff better facilities to carry out essential maintenance on the railway, making it more reliable for the future as we build back better from the coronavirus pandemic.”
The 21st century depot replaces a 140-year-old train shed which was not fit for maintaining a modern railway or compliant with accessibility requirements. The new building, built as part of phase one, now has appropriate changing facilities and toilets as well as level access to ensure it is accessible for the entire workforce.
Network Rail has stated that this investment has safeguarded more than 100 jobs.