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Bid Submitted for York to Host HS2 Rail College

HS2 - Birmingham and Fazeley Canal - high res

5:33pm 29th April 2014

A bid to make York home of the new national high speed rail college has today been submitted to the government.

The deadline to submit bids to central government was today (30 April) and will pave way for the new college to be built by 2017.

Competition for the location of the new college will be strong, but businesses in the region are convinced the case for York Central is compelling.

Over 60 businesses and organisations across the Yorkshire and the North East regions are backing the bid, including Yorkshire-based companies such as East Coast, Tata and Omnicom Engineering, Dyer Engineering and Henry Williams in Tees Valley and Hitachi's new operation in County Durham. 

With up to 2,000 apprentices potentially benefitting from the new college, education skills providers across the region are also supporting the proposals including York College, Teesside University, Darlington College and the University of York to ensure a York Central hub would extend across Yorkshire and the North East. 

The college will deliver specialised training and qualifications needed to construct high speed rail, which will not only benefit HS2 but other future infrastructure projects in the region.

The first new incorporated further education college in over 20-years, it will offer technical training ensuring HS2 can be built by skilled British workers including; rail engineering, environmental skills and construction.

Barry Dodd, chairman of the York, North Yorkshire & East Riding Enterprise Partnership, said: “The UK excels in several technologies but it is rare to gain the operating benefits of critical mass, particularly in the North of England. The York and North Yorkshire with East Riding LEP believes the proposed High Speed Rail College should be located in York because the existing brand new Network Rail training centre together with impressive rail infrastructure is already there. The HSR college would therefore gain instant critical mass, provide cross training opportunities and achieve cost benefits if positioned in York.’

John A McDermid Professor of Software Engineering University of York, said: "As well as its long rail heritage, York now has a world-leading set of capabilities on which to base the HS2 College - from a state-of-the-art operations centre with linked training facilities, specialist consultancies such as Omnicom supporting asset management, to internationally recognised research and education at the University of York, and many more - this breadth is unparalleled in the UK".

Stirling Kimkeran, chairman of York’s Economic Partnership said: “The YEP fully supports this bid. We welcome the potential to grow an already strong sector within the region and with York’s rail heritage and existing skilled workforce we would like to see the new college based in this location.”

Neil Ferguson, director of Ecado Ltd, said: “I'm confident that York would be the perfect location for the HS2 training college. There's a long and successful history behind York's rail industry where virtually all the main engineering companies have local offices hosting talented and innovative project teams. A training college that can tap into all that local expertise and experience and provide opportunities to the young students at the many outstanding schools within the area would be best placed for developing and delivering the huge amount of talent that will be required to for this vital project.”

York is home to the headquarters of major operators including Northern Rail and East Coast Mainline providing significant collaboration and customer opportunities.  Other key businesses include Alliance Rail Holdings, Historical Railways Estate and Direct Rail Services Ltd. .  Furthermore, its unique location means that within 1 hour it provides links to 14% of the UK’s rail industry, including the likes of Hitachi, Siemens and Wabtec, and numerous skills providers specialising in rail such as universities at York, Huddersfield and Newcastle and FE colleges across many of the cities.

There are also existing and growing strengths in auxiliary industries such as rail engineering, including businesses such as Tata Steeland Siemens Rail, , and transportation software, with York companies including Omnicom and Trapeze Group.

Network Rail is currently investing £36m in York in the form of a new rail operating and training centre at York Central, a 35ha development site, located immediately adjacent to the rail station in York and expected to accommodate up to 125,000 sq m of commercial and grade A office space as part of a new central business district.

The rail operating centre will be the largest in the country and will control signalling and rail operations on the east coast from London King’s Cross to the Scottish borders. Around 500 jobs will be spread over the two facilities leading to all rail operations for the east coast route consolidated on this site.

The government is expected to make a decision on the location of the site in June/July.

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