Ready to roll! Twenty new employees have just joined carriagemakers Thrall Europa, bringing the total on the payroll so far to 130.

Apart from one or two key posts, the workforce is in place on the vast site in Holgate Road, York.

The huge production lines are ready. The components are about to be assembled... and, by July 27, the first carriage will be ready and waiting.

At the very least there will be 2,499 more which will be delivered to English, Welsh and Scottish Railways in a year as part of the contract that enabled the Chicago-based company to resurrect on the same site the work of defunct carriagemakers ABB.

And they are raring to go. Jim Macfadyen, general manager of Thrall Europa, said: "The mood here is wonderfully positive.

"There is a sense of determination, excitement, professionalism and recognition that the hard work is still to be done."

Mr Macfadyen calculates that the number of applications for jobs at Thrall Europa in the months since management moved on to the site last July, has amounted to "several thousands."

And the recruiting is not finished as the firm seeks yet another manufacturing/industrial engineer and yet another painter - and as the wagons start to roll, the workforce will swell to at least 300. At least, because while the company is gearing up to cope with the massive order, EWS is burgeoning with demand for more and more carriages and some believe that eventually the contract could double.

Mr Macfadyen remains coy about declaring precisely how much Thrall's overall investment has been on the York site, although millions of pounds have been spent on new machinery from the US, Germany and the UK as well as constructing buildings to house massive compressors and re-assembly of production lines in refurbished ABB sheds.

Converted for the new archive on 30 June 2000. Some images and formatting may have been lost in the conversion.