Great British Railways: Government urged to set up new headquarters in the North

The Government is being urged to ensure the new home of Great British Railways is in the North.

Crewe, Doncaster, Newcastle, York, Birmingham and Derby are on the shortlist and the public have until August 15 to vote for a preferred location.

Later this year, the Transport Secretary will make a final decision on where the state-run company, which will oversee rail infrastructure, ticket prices and timetables, will be based.

Transport for the North has launched a campaign calling on the Government to choose one of the four Northern contenders.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps (left) and journalist Michael Portillo have been urging towns and cities to make the case for why they should host the new headquarters of Great British Railways.

Chief Executive Martin Tugwell said: “The new Great British Railways’ (GBR) headquarters can be anywhere, as long as it’s here in the North.

"Transport for the North will be making the case for it to be based here in the heart of the country over the coming weeks. 

“Our country’s national railway is over 200 years old, but few people know that our rail network was born here in the North of England with the very first railways and stations. By basing GBR here it will be a homecoming.”

Councillor Carl Les, Leader of North Yorkshire County Council, said setting up the GBR headquarters in the North would support the Government’s levelling up agenda.

“York has an extensive rail heritage and the right skills and people to make GBR a success,” he added.

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Oliver Coppard, South Yorkshire Mayor, said: “Doncaster is an archetypal railway city and the place that built the world-famous Flying Scotsman and the Mallard.

“It is ideally placed to be the new home of Great British Railways in the heart of South Yorkshire and as a gateway to the North.” 

Jamie Driscoll, Mayor of the North of Tyne, said: “This would be a symbolic homecoming and a fantastic opportunity to create new jobs. The North East was once the home of the locomotive – it should be again.  

“Rather than leaving the north behind we should be putting it first by basing the railways here, and Newcastle offers a perfect location for GBR linked to heritage sites and the facilities to support a 21st century headquarters.” 

Forty-two towns and cities had bid to host the base after the competition was launched in October.

GBR said its new home must have a rich railway heritage, be well-connected to the rest of the UK and offer good value for money.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced plans for GBR last year, saying the body would replace an “overcomplicated and fragmented” system which sees private operators secure long-term contracts to run services.