Work on constructing the world’s most advanced train manufacturing facility in Fife could start next summer if planning permission is granted this week.
Spanish firm Talgo – which specialises in high speed tilting trains – intends to initially employ 1,000 workers in the Kingdom.
Plans for its multi-million 80,000 square metre factory on the site of the Longannet Power Station near Kincardine have been recommended for conditional approval by council officials.
The project is dependent on winning manufacturing contracts either in Britain or internationally but Talgo UK’s managing director Jon Veitch said he was confident of winning a major award next year.
Talgo, whose trains can travel as fast as 360 km an hour, has been shortlisted to provide vehicles for the HS2 high speed railway project.
“The contract for rolling stock for HS2 is worth £2.7 billion,” Mr Veitch said.
“There’s a limit to what I can say as it’s currently being evaluated but we have submitted the best bid I’ve ever seen anywhere in the world.
“We are expecting to hear about HS2 in the middle of next year but it’s not the only show in town.
“Our two Spanish factories are at capacity and our Fife plans are based on winning work in the UK or anywhere else in the world.”
Mr Veitch said the company expects to have “spades in the ground” in June. The power station site is currently being demolished by Scottish Power.
He said the investment would be much greater than the £40m investment figure previously cited.
Building the vast factory is scheduled to take between 18 and 20 months.
“After that it will take until the autumn of 2023 with the recruitment, training and the technology transfer between here and Spain,” he said.
“The 1,000 jobs figure is extremely precise and will be supported by at least 5,000 indirect jobs.
“It’s been a long held aim by Talgo to come to the UK, the birthplace of the railways, and we are planning for success.”
The wheels on Talgo’s trains are not on an axis which means they can rotate at different speeds.
Talgo says this makes their trains much safer as when going round corners the wheels are not fighting against each other, which can cause instability. The trains can also tilt safely round corners which keeps the speed up.
Its vehicles manufactured for the UK market will be capable of using the existing network as well as high speed lines.
Initially Talgo looked at 30 locations in the UK before selecting Longannet.
Mr Veitch said: “We scored lots of factors – connectivity, availability of skilled staff or evidence of hugely competent colleges, the supply chain and way to attract supply chain. It was a tough decision.
“One of the overriding things for me was the testing and acceptance of trains – it’s one of the key elements – the ability to test trains in a safe environment.
“I want to make it clear we are not just planning to assemble trains in Fife. We will be manufacturing – sheets of aluminium at one end and trains at the other.
“If a part’s not manufactured on site, then it will be sourced from within the UK.
“We have had such a positive reaction from school, communities, regulators, the finance world, the political world… we are excited to get started.”
The plans will be considered at Wednesday’s Fife Council Central and West Planning Committee.
Planners have recommended it be approved subject to a number of conditions, including the submission of detailed plans for the site, a traffic management plan, a noise and vibration assessment and the remediation of former coal mining.