Shortlist announced for headquarters of GBR

Six English towns and cities in the Midlands and North have been shortlisted to be the new headquarters of Great British Railways, which is expected to start work as the industry’s new ‘guiding mind’ in April 2024.

The six on the shortlist are Birmingham, Crewe, Derby, Doncaster, Newcastle-upon-Tyne and York, and a public vote has been opened today, with the winner due to be announced later this year. Originally, 42 places had submitted expressions of interest.

The new headquarters will provide ‘strategic direction’ for the running of GBR, which will also have five regional offices based on Network Rail’s present regions.

The key factors which were considered were how much each candidate would be aligned to ‘levelling up objectives’, but also how well they are connected and would be easy to reach, the opportunities for GBR, value for money and the level of public support. The shortlisting panel also considered the candidates’ railway heritage.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps said: ‘Our world-leading railways have served this country well for 200 years and this is a huge step in the reforms, which will shape our network for the next 200. 

‘Great British Railways will create a truly sustainable, modern and fair railway network for passengers and freight customers. I’m calling on people across the country to play a key part in this once-in-a-generation reform and vote for the new home of our railways.’

Network Rail chief executive Andrew Haines is also leading the Great British Railways transition team. He said: ‘A big congratulations to Birmingham, Crewe, Derby, Doncaster, Newcastle and York for reaching the final stage.

‘Since the competition was launched it has been great to see the interest from towns and cities across Britain who believe GBR’s home should be with them. I am really looking forward to the next step and seeing which town or city has the honour of being the home for GBR. Good luck to the final six.’

The announcement of the shortlist has followed the publication in May 2021 of the Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail, which recommended the creation of a new railway guiding mind.

The GBR transition team has also called for evidence about targets for rail freight growth.

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