Transport Secretary’s HS2 decision boosts new rail institute

A Government announcement has unlocked the potential of the University’s new institute for high speed rail.

Today, the Transport Secretary has confirmed the location of a new HS2 depot, which will maintain and service the brand new high speed trains. Its location alongside the Institute combines the depot with the University’s advanced testing facilities to create a “thriving hub” for future engineers. The co-location, to the East of Leeds, ensures the region benefits from the predicted economic growth from the HS2. The Institute brings to Leeds a ‘whole system’ approach to high speed rail planning, design, construction and manufacturing, the only one of its kind in the UK.

Advancing high speed rail 

Professor Lisa Roberts, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Innovation at the University of Leeds said: “The location of the depot, combined with the new advanced testing facilities as part of the University’s Institute, are a significant step forward for UK high speed rail capability.

“They position Leeds City Region as a global centre for high speed rail research and development, so we’re working closely with HS2 to ensure our facilities align with its needs and those of industry, so all sides can deliver for the country.”

Chris Grayling, Transport Secretary, said: “The depot will act as an economic catalyst, creating skilled jobs, boosting the local economy by unlocking regeneration opportunities and driving continued investment.

This ensures Leeds will not only see immediate benefits when HS2 arrives but will see Yorkshire become a thriving hub for training the engineers that HS2 and future major projects will need.

Investment and training

The Rolling Stock depot has a crucial role in enabling 24-hour maintenance of the brand new high-speed trains, set to deliver faster journeys for passengers on the East Coast mainline. It will create up to 125 skilled jobs, building on HS2’s commitment to create more than 100,000 new jobs and 2,000 apprentices. The Institute of High Speed Rail Technology and System Integration is also expected to attract significant inward investment and jobs to Leeds City Region, as well as train postgraduate engineers through new MSc courses and PhDs. Creating opportunities for people to study alongside experts, the University has launched a new MSc course on Railway Engineering and Project Management, as well as new PhD opportunities to ensure a pipeline of skilled professionals for the industry.

Railway research excellence

The equipment, facilities and expertise within the Institute will create a UK centre of excellence. It will be equipped to lead on the research and development needs for global industry partners including advanced technology development and testing, digital engineering and transport policy and economics.

Councillor Judith Blake, Leader of Leeds City Council, said: “It’s now important that through our continued work with HS2 and the Department for Transport that we finalise the proposals for the University of Leeds’ Institute for High Speed Rail, which will be world leading in its field, and underpin the continued success of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Zone.

Taken together, both of these facilities will make Leeds and the region a global centre for advanced rail and high speed technology, further strengthening the economy.

Benefits for region

The chosen location for the depot in the Aire Valley reflects proposals put forward during a public consultation on the site, and will help ensure HS2 has fewer environmental impacts in the region by reducing the distance empty trains travel to and from Leeds station for overnight stabling.

Paul Griffiths, Phase Two Managing Director, HS2 Ltd said: “This confirmation that the region is set to benefit even further from HS2 is a significant boost for Yorkshire’s economic prosperity and lays the foundations for wider investment.”

The Institute will build links with Network Rail and existing areas of individual rail expertise in the region, including the Network Rail Campus in York, the High Speed Rail College in Doncaster and Institute for Rail Research at the University of Huddersfield. The arrival of HS2 in Leeds will also be vital to the success of the South Bank redevelopment, one of the largest proposed regeneration projects in Europe, which could provide 12,000 new homes and support up to 40,000 jobs across the City Region.

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