CREWE could be on the verge of a UK-leading skills boost after the borough council was shortlisted as part of a Manchester-led bid for a HS2 college hub.

The bid is one of four nationwide shortlisted by the Department for Innovation Business and Skills to provide provision for a national college for high-speed rail, skills and enterprise.

The new college hub and a number of ‘spoke’ sites will provide training to the next generation of engineers working on the HS2 project and beyond by 2017.

If Manchester’s bid is successful, the Crewe campus of Manchester Metropolitan University, South Cheshire College and Reaseheath College are likely beneficiaries as ‘spokes’ of the scheme.

Council Leader, clr Michael Jones, said he had a ‘great deal of faith’ in the bid.

“This is brilliant news,” he added. “Crewe is seen as a vital component of the Manchester bid.

“On advice from Government, we joined forces with Manchester's, making ours a hub and spoke model, which is what the government told us they would prefer.

“We did not believe it would be in the interest of Crewe to proceed alone and that the right decision was made to join Manchester.

“We are quietly confident that our model and joint bid will be successful and as such we are naturally delighted to see the Manchester bid, which incorporates the Crewe, has been shortlisted.

“What we’ve got here is a railway heritage that is equal to Manchester’s - so it was always going to be a compelling business case when you merge both.

Representatives from Birmingham, Derby, Doncaster and Manchester will now give a presentation to an advisory group on Friday, June 27, in order for a final decision to be made in July.

The National College for High Speed Rail forms part of the government’s work with HS2 Ltd to ensure the new north-south railway delivers a tangible skills legacy that will serve the UK for the next century.

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