Doncaster was one of the towns that helped build Britain’s railways.
And now it will be one of the town’s that builds the future of high speed rail in the country following the announcement it would become home to the planned HS2 Rail college, shared with Birmingham.
The borough’s proud rail heritage has been one of its biggest assets since the industrial revolution.
Since the Doncaster Locomotive and Carriage Building Works, commonly known as ‘The Plant’ were established in 1853, Doncaster has been known nationally for its rail links and manufacturing, including the production of famous locomotives such as and the Flying Scotsman the Mallard, which still holds the record for being the world’s fastest steam locomotive.
Today, the town is home to household names in the rail industry such DB Schenker, Volker Rail and Hitachi with 10,000 people are currently employed in the sector, and in excess of £1.7 billion worth of contracts is booked in with firms over the next five years.
This combined with the successful bid for the new high speed rail college, which will train thousands of new rail engineers, it is hoped will help to herald a new golden era for the rail industry in Doncaster.
Figures from Doncaster Mayor Ros Jones to Prime Minister David Cameron have all welcomed news of the HS2 college being built in the town after the announcement this week.
Mayor Ros Jones said: “Bringing a national engineering college to Doncaster will be a game changer for the town .”
The rail college will be built on a 5.1 acre site within walking distance of household names in the rail industry like DB Schenker, Volker Rail and Hitachi.
Doncaster’s MPs, Rosie Winterton, Caroline Flint and Ed Miliband made a detailed submission to support the Doncaster bid and met with Business Secretary Vince Cable to press the case for the Doncaster’s bid.
They said:“The college will create well-paid, skilled jobs for Doncaster people.
“Doncaster’s railway history, its current transport links and its existing expertise in the railway industry make it the perfect location for the HS2 rail college.”
Phil Harris, chief executive officer of Doncaster Chamber, said: “Doncaster offers great connectivity, links to world class rail engineering businesses and great inroads to outstanding educational establishments. Moreover, positioning the college in Doncaster provides the greatest opportunity for re-balancing the economy and supporting growth in the north which is just what HS2 is meant to be all about.”
Commenting on the news, 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.”
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.”
“The Sheffield City Region HS2 College bid brought together local leaders from across the private and public sectors to make the strongest case possible for the college to be located in Doncaster. Together with strong support from all the other LEPs in Yorkshire and the North East, this played a major part in persuading Government to locate the college in the North.”
Prime Minister David Cameron said: “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.”