By Ian McConnell

AN international rail cluster will be built to link Scotland’s small and medium-sized firms with train manufacturers, contractors, academics, and research centres as part of a drive to make the nation “a world leader in creating net zero emissions railways”.

Industry body Scottish Engineering has been appointed to undertake the £72,000, 18-month “cluster builder” project. The appointment has been made by taxpayer-funded agency Scottish Enterprise, which flagged the “world leader” aim, with support from Transport Scotland.

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Scottish Enterprise said it was “behind a series of projects designed to find more environmentally friendly train and track solutions, as well as bringing jobs and inward investment to Scotland’s manufacturing and engineering sectors”.

The project to build the cluster will be led by Shona Clive, who joins Scottish Engineering from Babcock International.

She said: “In the current circumstances, this will begin life as a digital project with a number of events bringing the parties together online in the initial months. But the ambition is there within Scottish Enterprise for this to develop into a physical cluster of businesses and research centres in Scotland, collaborating to deliver a world-class manufacturing capability in low-carbon rail transport. It’s a real honour to be involved at this early stage in what promises to be a huge development for rail and engineering in Scotland, as well as creating more environmentally friendly railways for world markets.”

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Michael Matheson, Cabinet Secretary for Transport, flagged the Scottish Government’s stated aim to “decarbonise Scotland’s rail services by 2035”.

David Leven, at Scottish Enterprise, said “This is an exciting development in Scotland’s fight against the climate emergency, and in building a new field for jobs and investment. The project will connect Scottish businesses with the country’s top manufacturing innovators, as well as connecting up supply chain partners.”