THE chief executive of National Rail visited the new training campus in Basingstoke yesterday.

Mark Carne, along with two of Network Rail’s first year apprentices, toured the £49million Network Rail signalling and training in Gresley Road, Basingstoke yesterday.

The new centre will be Network Rail’s signalling hub, controlling trains travelling in the south east and London.

It is part of the operator’s £55m investment to create seven training centres across the country and the 5,000 square metre Basingstoke centre is the first facility to provide training for staff from both Network Rail and South West Trains under one roof.

Staff are already taking advantage of the training facilities at the site, which is due to fully open in April 2016.

The visit follows an announcement by the Department for Transport that more than 30,000 apprenticeship places will be created across the road and rail industry over the next five years.

Patrick McLoughlin, Secretary of State for Transport, said: “Training our rail and road workforce is essential if we want to build a transport network fit for the future.

“I want to see every part of Britain benefiting from a growing economy and that is why our investment in transport won’t just help people get around, it will help them get on.”

Mr Carne said: “We need a highly skilled workforce to enable us to deliver our multi-million-pound railway upgrade plan and a network fit for the 21st century.

“That’s why we have a steadfast commitment to training and developing everyone from apprentices and graduates to upskilling our 35,000-strong workforce and others across the industry with the latest digital, technical and engineering skills.

“We know this investment pays off with more than 80 per cent of the 2,000 apprentices trained since 2005 still working for us and contributing to a safer and better railway every day.”

Once all seven training centres are complete, they will deliver 270,000 training days a year for Network Rail.