RAILWAY contractor Vital Rail has said it expects the high-speed rail line to create new opportunities for apprenticeships in York.

Vital Skills Training, the training arm of the company, has 51 apprentices, including one woman, at the York Rail Academy, based at the National Railway museum.

The company has also linked up with York College to provide training for 100 rail apprentices, aged 17 to 24. It received 300 applications for the scheme, which will include training apprentices in the art of installing and maintaining the signalling infrastructure.

The company is recruiting for the next wave of apprentices to go through the academy and said it would revisit previous applications and welcome new approaches, especially from women.

Lawrence Dobie, education and training director at Vital Skills Training, said: “I believe the recent announcements about HS2 and Network Rail’s CP5 Investment Plan are positive news for the York Rail Academy.

“The academy is well placed to provide a broad range of rail engineering training to the existing workforce and new apprentices entering the sector.

“York is certainly a viable location to provide the skills that are needed for these projects. There is a significant amount of railway investment along the east coast of England and on trans-Pennine routes. The recent announcement that HS2 will be extended to Leeds and Manchester is also positive news for the York Rail Academy.

“We look forward to working with York College and the National Railway Museum to develop the facility over the coming months and years.”

Vital Rail, which carries out track, safety, signalling and telecoms work as well as overhead line electrification, is working on Network Rail contracts on the East Coast Main Line (ECML), which has led the firm to reopen its regional office in York in April.