Yorkshire wins HS2 college race

Artist impression of how the High Speed Rail College in Doncaster could look.   Courtesy of Bond Bryan Architects.
Artist impression of how the High Speed Rail College in Doncaster could look. Courtesy of Bond Bryan Architects.
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YORKSHIRE will be at the forefront of the high speed rail revolution after Ministers chose the region to host the new HS2 College.

The college will lead the way in training young rail engineers to work on the high speed route set to run from London to Leeds.

And in the longer term it will help the country become a world leader in high speed rail technology.

Doncaster will jointly host the college with Birmingham who together beat off competition from Derby and Manchester who had also been shortlisted in what was a fierce contest.

Announcing the decision today, Prime Minister David Cameron said: “As a crucial part of our long-term economic plan, this government is backing business with better infrastructure so that more jobs and opportunities are created for hardworking people.

“The benefits of high-speed rail will not just be seen by those commuting between London and the North, but through the thousands of local jobs and apprenticeships created because of HS2.

“The opening of this National College will also ensure that we have a pool of locally-trained workers with the right skills to draw upon for future projects.”

Doncaster Mayor Ros Jones said: “Bringing a national engineering college to Doncaster will be a game changer for the town and the Sheffield City Region, complementing the plans we have implemented to grow our thriving rail and engineering sector. It will offer local people, including our school leavers, the chance to gain high level engineering skills leading to well-paid jobs that are in high demand.”

The college will be built on the Lakeside Campus and is due to open in 2017.

Labour leader Ed Miliband, a Doncaster MP, said: “This is fantastic news for Doncaster and will be a huge boost to our local economy. Doncaster has always been a proud railway town and this announcement, which our Mayor Ros Jones has worked so hard to achieve along with all those behind the bid, means we will continue to be a leader in rail and advanced manufacturing for years to come.”

Doncaster’s bid, which received backing from across Yorkshire and the North-East, stressed the region’s railway heritage and the fact it gave the Government the opportunity to spread the benefits of HS2 to a wider area.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said: “The opening of this college demonstrates that the UK is advancing as a global leader in rail manufacturing - in line with the Government’s Industrial Strategy. “This is the next step in building the highly skilled specialist workforce needed to develop the biggest infrastructure project this country has ever seen, and to enable our rail industry to compete in future global markets.

“This process has demonstrated a real commitment from all parts of the country to the development of a cutting edge training facility and a rail workforce which is the best in the world.”

The announcement was widely welcomed by the Yorkshire business community.

James Newman, chairman of the Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “The new HS2 College is good news for jobs, skills and economic growth in Doncaster and the Sheffield City Region.

“Sheffield City Region has all the elements needed to make the flagship HS2 College a great success, including a reputation and heritage in rail engineering, its location on the East Coast Mainline, an exceptional engineering business base and world-class further and higher education providers.”

Wabtec Group managing director Chris Weatherall said: “Wabtec Rail is delighted Doncaster will host the High Speed Rail College. This announcement confirms that Doncaster is one of the leading centres of railway engineering in the UK.

“The strength of support from businesses across the North has paid dividends and we can now look forward with increased optimism. This decision will support the continuing growth in railway engineering at Wabtec, in Doncaster and across the region. It will also encourage more young people to enter the industry.”

York and Leeds had also expressed an interest in being the home of the college but threw their weight behind Doncaster after they failed to make the shortlist.

Coun James Alexander, leader York Council and chairman of the East Coast Main Line Authorities, said: “We are delighted that Doncaster’s bid to bring the Rail College to Yorkshire has been successful.

“This has very much been a team effort across Yorkshire partners and is fantastic news for the region. This will help to ensure we see a continued investment in the Northern rail links and firmly establish Yorkshire as a key business hub for the rail industry.”