High speed rail college could be heading to Yorkshire

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YORKSHIRE is bidding to become the home of a new college which will provide training for young people working on high speed rail.

The Government is looking for a location for the college which it hopes will make sure people have the right skills for the project, known as HS2, and also create a long term legacy by establishing the UK as a centre of expertise in high speed rail.

The Leeds City Region group of councils is hoping to convince Ministers the area is the best location for the first new further education college in 20 years.

York believes it could be a strong contender as home to rail operators Northern Rail and East Coast Mainline and where Network Rail is currently spending £36m on a new signalling and training centre.

Leeds will also press its case as the expected location of a new station for HS2 and the home of the third largest further education college in the country.

Ministers are due to take a decision on the location in June and the college is expected to open in 2017.

Leeds City Council leader Keith Wakefield said: “Bringing the college here would build on expertise already in the region creating up to 2000 new apprenticeships and an incredible lasting legacy of engineering.

“This would clearly benefit future engineering projects in our region making it a hotbed for talent and investment.

“The sheer length of the project means we can offer people a rewarding career in engineering, whilst the multiplicity of skills required means we will be equipping a new generation with experience at the cutting edge of technology.”

York Council leader James Alexander said: “I strongly support HS2 and am pleased that we will be at the heart of the connection between HS2 and East Coast Main Line. I therefore strongly back a bid for the new college to be brought to the Leeds City Region.

“In York, we have a long and proud tradition of excellence in this industry and currently have 71 per cent of the regional workforce in the rail industry and 10 per cent of the total national workforce in this industry offering a major existing pool of talent.”

Under the current plans. the first phase of HS2 will run from London to Birmingham before a second phase will see the line split into a Y-shape with one arm heading to Manchester and the other to Yorkshire.

New stations are due to be built at Meadowhall and in the centre of Leeds with services also continuing towards York where they will move on to the existing network. Sheffield is lobbying for a city centre station.

HS2 chairman Sir David Higgins is currently looking at the project to see if it can be delivered more quickly and cheaply and to see if the North can benefit earlier.