CONSTRUCTION of a state-of-the-art £80million electric train depot is well underway in South Gloucestershire.

The project, from Hitachi Rail Europe, is being built for high speed trains under the government’s £5.8billion Intercity Express Programme where the Great Western Main Line meets the South Wales Main Line at Stoke Gifford.

The steel frame of the 300-metre long maintenance depot, where up to 34 small trains or 16 large ones will be serviced and cleaned every day, is now visible from nearby houses and a 500-metre culvert to prevent flooding is nearing completion.

A noise bund to protect local residents has been finished and 105 workers, including four local apprentices, are currently working on the site although that number will increase to 300 as the project progresses.

Keith Jordan, managing director of Hitachi Europe, said: “We are here for the long-term. We have a 27.5-year maintenance contract but for us this depot is for life.

“We have tried to build up a relationship with stakeholders and engage with the community and have been very well received.”

He said the company, which has a similar depot in Ashford, Kent, had chosen the site because of its good proximity to the west and the South West.

“The trains running through here will be the New Class 800 Series which run on electric and non-electric lines so there is flexibility there,” he said. “We want lots of different types of high speed trains to run through here eventually.

“We see Stoke Gifford as an opportunity to grow the business.”

At a tour of the site on Monday, attended by chief executive of South Gloucestershire Council Amanda Deeks, Filton and Bradley Stoke MP Jack Lopresti, district and parish councillors, guests were told the project was on track for completion late next year with the first trains using the depot in 2016.

Senior project manager for construction firm VolkerFitzpatrick, Paul Lilley, said: “We are on programme to complete on time.

“We had some challenging weather at the start of the year but we have kept going.”

As well as a super-clean maintenance depot, the facility will include stabling and servicing roads, a carriage wash plant and office and staff accommodation.

Cllr Brian Allinson (Con, Stoke Gifford), the council’s head of transport, told the Gazette: “This is important for the future of the area and it will bring jobs.

“So far the project has gone very well thanks to a very good policy by Hitachi and VolkerFitzpatrick in telling everybody what they are doing and what to expect. They have also provided much-needed park benches and cycle paths in Stoke Gifford and making sure they are part of the community.”

Mr Lopresti said: “I am very pleased to hear a commitment to local jobs and apprenticeships once the facility is open.

“This is an area of global and high-tech engineering expertise and Hitachi wants to be a part of that. It is very exciting.”