The four cities have been shortlisted by the department for business, innovation & skills (BIS) to house the college ‘hub’. It will be supported by a number of ‘spoke’ operations around the country, training rail engineers. It is being developed, in the first instance, to support construction of the HS2 project.
Bids were assessed against a range of criteria, including the size and availability of a suitable site, accessibility, and the potential to develop strong links with employers and providers already operating in the sector.
Skills and enterprise minister Matthew Hancock said: “I was extremely encouraged by the level of interest that has been shown by areas across the country in being part of meeting the high speed rail skills challenge. We received a number of very strong proposals, and not all can be taken forward to the final stage. However, it is clear that there is already some excellent partnership activity taking place between education providers and the rail industry across the country which is resulting in the delivery of some outstanding provision.
“For the college to be a success, it will need to bring together this expertise so we can achieve high quality skills provision in this important sector. We hope that all those locations that responded to the consultation will develop strong links with the main college site, so that as many learners as possible have access to the opportunities that HS2 and other rail engineering projects will create.”
Transport Minister Baroness Kramer said: “HS2 is a vital part of our long-term economic plan, providing and safeguarding tens of thousands of jobs. The new college will equip the engineers of the future with the skills they need to secure these jobs and similar ones in the UK and across the globe.
“This new national college will operate with a ‘hub and spoke’ model, so there is huge potential for towns and cities across the country to benefit from the opportunities it will bring.”
BIS has appointed Crossrail chairman Terry Morgan to advise on its development. He is also chairman of the National Skills Academy for Railway Engineering and was previously chief executive of Tube Lines and group managing director for BAE Systems. His first task was to oversee the selection of the shortlist and he will be involved in final phase of the selection process.
Representatives from Birmingham, Derby, Doncaster and Manchester have been invited to give presentations to an advisory group on Friday 27 June for a final decision to be made in July. The group will consist of Terry Morgan, various civil servants and senior staff from HS2 Ltd.
The High Speed Rail College is the first specialist national college to be developed and plans are in place to create colleges specialising in nuclear, coding and energy.