A new rail college in Doncaster will be key to ensuring the planned HS2 high-speed rail link is a success.
That was the message delivered by Dan Fell, chief executive officer of Doncaster Chamber, when he attended the first-ever Future of Rail conference at Doncaster Racecourse last week.
The event attracted scores of transport bosses to discuss the future of Britain’s rail industry and how South Yorkshire has a key part to play.
The conference heard how Doncaster and Birmingham were chosen as the dual locations for the National College for High Speed Rail in September last year, which is set to train staff to work on the proposed new HS2 rail line.
Mr Fell said: “Clearly the HS2 College is a massive boost to the sector and the local economy. There is a risk that growth in the sector could be constrained by skills shortages. The new college we be a key piece in the jigsaw when addressing those problems.”
The college, based at Doncaster’s Lakeside Campus, is due to open in 2017 and will train thousands of apprentices to work on the new rail link, which would see trains travel at up to 250mph between London, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds. The project is awaiting parliamentary approval before work is due to start in 2017.
Key speakers at the conference included record producer and rail enthusiast Pete Waterman, Jake Rudham, a UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) rail sector specialist, Tim Hedley Jones, major projects director of Virgin Trains East Coast, Richard Wrigley, managing director of Beta technology and Keith Jordan, managing director at Hitachi Rail Europe. The event also showcased new cutting edge technologies, the future challenges of the rail industry and how firms can tap into the major opportunities that exist in the UK and across the world.
Doncaster mayor Ros Jones said: “The National College for High Speed Rail will see Doncaster become a centre for excellence in the rail industry.”