A prestigious flagship training college for the multi-billion pound HS2 rail link could steam into Doncaster.
Plans have been unveiled to bring the academy supporting the rail line between London and Northern England to the town, creating potentially hundreds of jobs and cementing Doncaster at the forefront of the UK rail industry.
And the bid to bring the centre to Doncaster has been welcomed by politicians and business chiefs who have described it as a “game changer.”
Phil Harris, CEO of Doncaster Chamber, said: “A rail college could be another game changer for the borough, consequently the bid has the chamber’s support.”
The borough has been put forward by the Sheffield City Region to be the location for the new college and has been picked for its strong railway heritage and unique cluster of rail engineering companies in the UK.
Peter Dale, Doncaster’s director of regeneration and environment, said: “I am delighted that partners across the city region have backed our ambition to have this HS2 rail training academy in Doncaster.
“Our town is world renowned for its railway history and has impressive industry credentials to support the bid for the HS2 rail college. The town, famed for such locomotives as the legendary Mallard and Flying Scotsman, is seen by businesses as an attractive place to hone people’s skills for a career in the rail industry.”
In Doncaster 3,000 people are employed directly in national and international rail companies, including companies from the USA, France and Germany. There are 15 major rail companies with operations in Doncaster – including Wabtec Rail, Volker Rail and Unipart Rail with a further 197 engineering companies based within the area.
Added Mr Harris: “Over the coming years there will be significant demand for workers in the rail sector but, at present, it does not look like UK companies will be able to meet that demand with UK labour unless more is down to increase the flow of people – including youngsters – into the industry. The college will provide an opportunity to square that circle and, additionally, to create jobs for Doncaster people and support the growth of local firms in the sector.”
James Newman, Chairman of the Sheffield City Region, said: “We fully back this proposal to bring the new HS2 College to the Sheffield City Region. We hope that the collective confidence shown by local leaders from across the private and public sectors to bring the main hub to Doncaster will help Government to make the right choice.
Doncaster Mayor Ros Jones said: “Building a national High Speed Rail College in Doncaster would be a real boost to our economic plans. I’m determined to create new jobs, economic growth and opportunities for our young people to get into skilled work. This project ticks all the boxes and I hope everyone in Doncaster will get behind the bid.”
Doncaster Central MP Rosie Winterton and Doncaster North MP Ed Miliband are also supporting the proposal.
Miss Winterton said: “Doncaster’s railway history, its current transport links and its existing expertise in this industry make it the perfect location for the HS2 training college. I think the bid is a strong one and should it succeed it will be a superb asset to the borough.”
Mr Miliband said: “Doncaster is a railway town – it is the ideal place to create this flagship new college.”
The decision on where the academy will be built will be announced next month.