In response to the Government’s request for communities across the country to bid to become the new home for Great British Railways (GBR), expressions of interest have been received from 42 towns and cities spread across the nation.
The creation of GBR was announced as a major pillar of once-in-a-generation reforms announced by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps in the Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail. GBR will be a single entity that ends the fragmentation of the rail industry, and drive benefits and improvements across the network for passengers and freight customers.
As part of the Government’s commitment to level-up the UK, and following the publication of the Levelling Up white paper, the new GBR Headquarters is to be based outside London. The winning location will benefit from a number of high-skilled jobs. The central headquarters will be the heart of the rail network and provide strategic direction for the running of GBR.
In February, locations across the country with strong historical links to the railway were encouraged to make the case for why they should be the new home of GBR. The deadline for expressions of interest was on Wednesday, 16th March, and applications were received from the north, south, east, and west of the country.
Applications will be measured against six criteria:
- alignment to levelling up objectives;
- connected and easy to get to;
- opportunities for GBR;
- railway heritage and links to the network;
- value for money;
- public support.
Local authorities, MPs, and business groups are being encouraged to continue to drive forward their campaigns using #DestinationGBR.
As well as the central GBR Headquarters, a number of new regional GBR headquarters will be established across the country. These will put decision-making and investment at the heart of the communities that use those railways day-to-day and further boost local economies.
The design of the future GBR is being led by the Great British Railways Transition Team. It will review each expression of interest as part of a rigorous assessment process, and publish a shortlist in May. The public will then have their say, with an online vote forming part of the criteria, to help identify the new home for Great British Railways. The winner will be revealed this summer.
The list of submissions are Barrow in Furness, Birmingham, Bishops Stortford, Bolton, Camborne, Carlisle, Carnforth, Coventry, Crewe, Darlington, Derby, Didcot, Doncaster, Dundee, Durham, Eastleigh, Edinburgh ,Fife, Gloucester, Grantham, Greater Manchester, Heywood, Hull, Liverpool, Milton Keynes, Motherwell, Newcastle, Northampton, Nuneaton, Perth, Peterborough, Preston (Lancs), Southampton, Stockton-on-Tees, Swindon, Tamworth, Tonbridge, Wakefield, Wellingborough, West of England combined authority (including Bristol and Bath), Worcester, York
Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps said: “It is brilliant to see so many places across the country come forward to be the new home of Great British Railways.
“All the entries show just how proud we should be as a nation of our long railway history.
“Now it’s full steam ahead with building a short list for the public vote, as we unlock all the energy and enthusiasm British people have for trains, to find the home of GBR.”
Leader of Great British Railways Transition Team, Andrew Haines, said: “We are going to make the railway simpler and better for everyone in Great Britain and to do that we must get closer to the communities we serve. This competition has clearly captured the imagination of people across the country who have a passion for the role trains play in their area. I’m excited to see what each town and city can bring as the HQ of GBR.”