Railway operations centre ‘to safeguard hundreds of jobs’

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MULTI-MILLION pound plans have been agreed for a new Network Rail building in York which it is claimed will safeguard hundreds of jobs as well as the city’s railway heritage.

The new Network Rail rail operating centre (ROC), one of 14 being established across the country, was agreed by councillors at a York council planning meeting yesterday.

The facility, to be built on disused land next to York railway station, will control rail operations on the East Coast main line between London and the Scottish Borders.

Coun James Alexander, the leader of York Council, hailed the decision which follows approval being granted to the major new Monks Cross retail and community stadium development last week.

“This is the second significant planning application to be approved by the council in a matter of weeks, and is another big step forward for York,” he said.

“The city has a strong railway heritage and the new rail operating centre is going to help secure existing jobs and expertise in our city, as well as generating opportunities for further growth. I’ve supported these plans from the start, which further underlines Network Rail’s continuing commitment to York and we’re looking forward working closely with Network Rail to support their work in the city.”

The 500 people employed at the new centre will be either existing railway workers in York or personnel moved from elsewhere. Network Rail claims the development will retain jobs in the city and safeguard its railway heritage.

Phil Verster, route managing director for Network Rail’s London North Eastern route, said: “These operating and training facilities will allow us to deliver a modern, efficient railway while at the same time maintaining York’s position as a proud rail city. The centres will retain jobs in the city and, over time, see all of our rail operations for the LNE route consolidated on this site. The operating centre is the largest of just 14 proposed centres across Britain and will bring the expertise and technology we need to operate the route into a single location.”

Meanwhile, a major ecological project to form a key element of the new 6,000-seater community sports stadium and retail development was also given the go-ahead at yesterday’s meeting.