College on track for tackling rail skills shortage
Following his first visit to the National College for High Speed Rail in Doncaster, Transport Secretary Andrew Jones said the new engineering and technology facility would help to pave the way in providing a new “digital high speed future” for the country’s rail network.
The South Yorkshire town will also see a “resurgence” in its proud railway heritage when rail and engineering businesses across the region come together to create a world-class skills centre in the town, the Minister said.
Mr Jones, who announced an additional £60,000 worth of bursary funding for students during the visit yesterday, told The Yorkshire Post: “We haven’t been building enough rail over the last 100 years. Consequently we don’t have the skills to deliver our aspiration. That’s why the college is critical; to give people the skills to deliver our new railways.”
The college, which is on track to open in September, is dedicated to plugging the engineering, design, planning, manufacturing and construction skills gap in the rail industry. It is hoped that it will play a key role in generating the “workforce of the future”, who will design and build the UK’s new HS2 high-speed rail network and future rail projects.
So far businesses across the region, including Doncaster-based Rhomberg Sersa, have donated more than £300,000 worth of materials to ensure that students can learn their skills on industry-leading equipment.
And it is hoped that more will pledge to support the college with materials, as well as teaching and mentoring.
Mr Jones said: “This investment in railway skills is the biggest since the Victorian era.”
“Doncaster’s rail heritage is very strong and we are now looking towards the future with a new generation of rail skills.
“It was great to see this whole scheme coming together so spectacularly and it is already starting to shape the industry in the area.”
Last week, The Yorkshire Post revealed that punctuality on Britain’s rail network has reached its lowest point in over a decade.
However, Mr Jones was keen to reassure rail passengers that the Government would continue to invest billions into improving services nationally and would not solely prioritise the HS2 project.
He said: “We are going through a period of significant rail investment and the Government is actually spending far more on the existing network than on HS2.”