The UK’s first dedicated hub for high-speed rail technologies is set to be built in Leeds – and could initially create some 3,000 new jobs for the city.
The Institute for High Speed Rail and System Integration, announced last year, is going to be built in the city’s enterprise zone.
Tom Riordan, Leeds Council’s chief executive, has now revealed the huge jobs potential for the exciting project, which will be a centre of excellence for high speed rail planning, design, construction and manufacturing.
Mr Riordan was chief executive of regional development agency Yorkshire Forward when an Advanced Manufacturing Park was launched on the Rotherham-Sheffield border in South Yorkshire.
He has revealed ambitions to replicate its success here in Leeds and said the new development would sit alongside Leeds University’s new high-speed rail centre.
The area is targeted for major economic growth from the HS2 construction project, with the HS2 rolling stock depot also located to the east of Leeds.
Speaking to the Yorkshire Evening Post, Mr Riordan said: “We are going through a big period of transition at the moment. Students and universities are vital to that and are absolutely crucial to attracting the talent we need to run the businesses we need going forward.
“We think we can replicate the Advanced Manufacturing Park by clustering developments around the new institute and rolling stock depot. That’s the sort of thing that could make a material difference, not just to Leeds, but to the North and the UK.”
Mr Riordan said he was certain the development would happen and added it was a question of how quickly it would be built and how big it would be.
Leeds University has committed to investing in the project, which would require £10m initially plus a further tranche of £10m. Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership has been asked to co-fund it. Mr Riordan said: “We want to use that technology as a honeypot for potential investors and manufacturers who will also need to test their rolling stock. We’ve already got interest from rolling stock manufacturers across Europe.”
Mr Riordan believes HS2 is “essential” to the success of plans to double the size of Leeds city centre and provide 35,000 jobs.
Last year, HS2 published a report suggesting the high-speed rail project will provide a major economic boost for the city.