Derby chosen as location for Great British Railways HQ
Image credit: Foto 184435130 © Clive Stapleton | Dreamstime.com
Derby has won the race to host the national headquarters of Great British Railways (GBR HQ), as part of the government’s plan to reform the UK’s railways.
The official home of GBR will be located in Derby, the government has announced. The Midlands city has been chosen from a shortlist of six that also included Birmingham, Crewe, Doncaster, Newcastle and York.
The new public body will own the rail infrastructure, procure passenger services and set most fares and timetables, the government has said.
"Derby will become the heart of Great Britain's rail industry, bringing together track and train, as well as revenue and cost," said transport secretary Mark Harper. "This means we will finally treat the railway as the whole system it should be rather than a web of disparate interests that it's become."
The city was chosen through a "rigorous assessment process", as well as a public vote. Derby's application was said to have demonstrated "strong links to the wider network, well-established connections with the industry, supply chain and customers, as well as an extensive local cluster of private sector rail businesses".
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak congratulated the city on Twitter, and said the new headquarters would drive "growth and investment to a city already brimming with the best talent".
Although the exact location for the headquarters is not yet known, the former Railway Technical Centre in the southeast of the city - currently a business park - has been earmarked as a potential site.
Derby is currently home to the UK's largest train factory, which employs about 2,000 people. It is also the only city in the UK to have manufactured rolling stock continuously since 1840.
Great British Railways was an initiative first announced in 2021 by then-transport secretary Grant Shapps. The aim of the project was for GBR to replace an "overcomplicated and fragmented" system.
GBR was due to be launched in early 2024, but the implementation date has been delayed.
The selection of Derby was celebrated as not only a huge win for the city, but also "a key milestone for the entire rail industry across the country" by Harper.
Councillor Chris Poulter, Leader of Derby City Council, responded to the news by saying: "We’re absolutely thrilled that Derby has been selected to become the home of Great British Railways. This result is a testament to the hard work of our team, alongside our key rail and city partners based across Derby - we couldn’t have done it without them.
"Rail heritage is at the heart of our city and for this to be recognised by government is a fantastic achievement. The investment we’ll see from this significant move will be huge, not only just for Derby but for levelling up across the whole of the wider East Midlands."
Amanda Solloway, Conservative MP for Derby North, said the decision was "fantastic news".
"This decision will bring jobs, investment, and the start of a new era for Britain's railways," she said.
Chris Poulter, Derby City Council leader, said: "Rail heritage is at the heart of our city and for this to be recognised by government is a fantastic achievement."
"The investment we'll see from this significant move will be huge, not only just for Derby but for levelling up across the whole of the wider East Midlands."
Darren Caplan, chief executive at the Railway Industry Association, said: “Today’s announcement is hopefully a welcome sign that the government is pressing on with industry reform, so that the supply chain can deliver transformational rail projects effectively and efficiently in future, while delivering value-for-money for the tax and fare payer.
"It is now crucial that ministers keep their foot on the pedal, to provide the industry with clarity on what reform will look like and ensure that there are no further delays in the development of GBR.”
Although Derby will be the home of our headquarters, the government stressed that GBR will also introduce empowered regional centres, to bring decision-making and leadership much closer to local customers and communities.
Sign up to the E&T News e-mail to get great stories like this delivered to your inbox every day.