A NEW national railway college creating 2,000 apprenticeships is to be built – and should be in York, local politicians and business leaders have said.

The rallying calls were made for York to be at the heart of HS2’s construction after the Government announced it was looking for location for the main site of the new High Speed Rail College.

Barry Dodd, chairman of the York, North Yorkshire & East Riding Enterprise Partnership, said: “I fully support a Yorkshire bid for a HS2 college and considering its history and strength in the rail Industry would encourage York to be the preferred location.”

York Central MP Hugh Bayley said: “York is an ideal location. We already have a rail academy here and many of the engineering companies which will be working on HS2 already have connections with the city.

Everyone knows about York’s rail heritage but it’s our present skills in railway engineering which make the city the ideal location for the HS2 training college.”

The college will help to train many of the 2,000 apprentices who are due to be employed during the lifetime of the high speed railway’s construction.

The scheme will see York connected directly to the line via a spur joining the London to Leeds route, with journey times between York and the capital expected to be cut from two hours to as little as 83 minutes.

Plans for the college were originally announced earlier this year, and the Government now wants to gather information from local areas on where the main site for the new college would be best located.

The college will deliver specialised training and qualifications needed to construct high speed rail, which will not only benefit HS2 but other future infrastructure projects in the region.

The Leeds City Region (LCR) Local Enterprise Partnership, of which York is part, is also bidding for the college to come to the region.

Coun James Alexander, leader of City of York Council, who represents York & North Yorkshire for HS2 Task Force, said: “I strongly support HS2 and am pleased that we will be at the heart of the connection between HS2 and East Coast Main Line.

“I therefore strongly back a bid for the new college to be brought to the Leeds City Region.

“In York, we have a long and proud tradition of excellence in this industry and currently have 71 per cent of the regional workforce in the rail industry, the equivalent of 7,600 jobs, and ten per cent of the total national workforce in this industry offering a major existing pool of talent.”

Stirling Kimkeran, chairman of York's Economic Partnership, said: “The YEP fully supports the LCR bid. We welcome the potential to grow an already strong sector within the region and with York’s rail heritage and existing skilled workforce we would like to see the new college based in this location.”

York is home to the headquarters of major operators including Northern Rail and East Coast Mainline. Other key businesses include Alliance Rail Holdings, Historical Railways Estate and Direct Rail Services Ltd.

Network Rail is currently investing £36 million in York in the form of a new rail operating and training centre at York Central, which will be the largest in the country and will control signalling and rail operations on the east coast from London King's Cross to the Scottish borders.

Consultation closes on May 30.