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HS2 college chiefs in donations plea

Birmingham | News | Published:

A specialist college for HS2 engineers is asking for financial donations to help set it up – even though the rail project has a £50bn price tag.

In a brochure for the National College of High Speed Rail, which will have campuses in Birmingham and Doncaster, asks for sponsors to help towards the costs of the flagship training centre.

Campaigners today accused the Government of going 'cap in hand' to businesses because it had 'run out of money'.

The college is being overseen by the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) which says it was 'always planned' to work with the rail industry to fund the college.

Stop HS2 campaign manager Joe Rukin accused the Government of 'chucking' money at the high speed rail project.

He said: "It is absolutely ridiculous the way money is being chucked at HS2 and it seems crazy that one of the supposed major positives of this project does not seem to be fully funded.

"Despite the £50bn for HS2 the college is going out cap in hand to ask money for buildings and equipment. They have run out of money."

The brochure states: "Your organisation can help make the college a reality by providing equipment or financial support.

"Students will need real railway assets and equipment so they can have the hands-on learning experiences that turn theory into practice."

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It added: "Your donations will be combined with investments by the UK Government, HS2 Ltd, and Birmingham and Doncaster's Local Enterprise Partnerships."

A BIS spokesman said it was 'perfectly normal' for industry to help pay towards national colleges.

He said: "This is standard practice. The National College is not funded by the HS2 pot which is earmarked for building the new rail line. The college will train the new generation of engineers to work on HS2 and in the rail industry and that is why we ask the rail sector to support it."

The college will be located in Birmingham's city centre Science Park and Doncaster's Lakeside Campus. The governing board will be chaired by Terry Morgan, who is also the chair of Crossrail, and will include representatives from Birmingham and Doncaster, alongside HS2 Ltd and leading rail firms.

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The High Speed Rail College is the first specialist National College to be developed and is planned to open in 2017.

It is expected that HS2 will create up to 2,000 apprentices during the lifetime of construction.

BIS is yet to announce how much the college will cost.

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