Derby named as home of Great British Railways HQ

Derby tops six-strong shortlist to become home and national HQ of Great British Railways.

Derby has been named as the national headquarters of Great British Railways (GBR HQ), coming out on top of a six-strong shortlist of English cities.

The city was shortlisted from 42 expressions of interest from towns and cities across the nation, all keen to be the home of the new ‘guiding mind’ for the railways, and eventually saw off fierce competition from the other shortlisted finalists Birmingham, Crewe, Doncaster, Newcastle and York.

Now, as Europe’s largest rail hub, Derby will soon become the heart of Great Britain’s rail industry too, bringing track and train together and delivering high-skilled jobs to a city already brimming with some of the best talent in the industry. 

Ministers say that Derby came top of all six locations in both the rigorous assessment process and the public vote. Their application 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.  

Transport secretary Mark Harper said: “It’s full steam ahead for the reform of our railways and today’s announcement is not only a huge win for the brilliant city of Derby, but a key milestone for the entire rail industry across the country.  

“Great British Railways will put the passenger first, promoting collaboration and innovation across a joined-up, efficient and modern network.”

Councillor Chris Poulter, leader of Derby City Council, said: “We’re absolutely thrilled that Derby has been selected to become the home of Great British Railways. 

“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.

“We have a rich history of being the only city in the UK to have manufactured rolling stock continuously since 1840, so I’m thrilled that Derby’s heritage is being recognised in this defining way. We can’t wait to see what this momentous move will mean for Derby and its citizens in the future.”

Ministers claim that, while GBR’s headquarters will be in Derby, other towns and cities across Britain, potentially including the other five shortlisted cities, will still benefit, becoming powered up regional GBR hubs equipped with local decision making, and investment powers aimed at benefiting their local communities and further creating jobs in the locations they serve. 

GBR will also have roles spanning across Great Britain including the north, south east, south west and London, with the HQ driving collaboration and innovation across the sector.  

The government is working closely and collaboratively with the Great British Transition Team to co-design the future of the UK’s railways. Passengers and freight customers will be GBR’s key priority, the new body will also take control of the industry’s finances to drive efficiency and work with the private sector to deliver for customers.  

Anit Chandarana, lead director, Great British Railways Transition Team, added: “The announcement that Derby will be the home of the Great British Railways headquarters is another important milestone on our journey to create a simpler and better railway for everyone in Britain.  

“Although Derby will be the home of our headquarters, Great British Railways will also introduce empowered regional centres, to bring decision making and leadership much closer to local customers and communities.    

“The Transition Team is continuing to work with government and the wider rail industry to deliver this much needed reform and we look forward to working with colleagues in Derby in the coming months, too.”

GBR’s Transition Team will now work with Derby to identify the site for the HQ within the city.

Maria Machancoses, chief executive of Midlands Connect, said: "Derby is right in the heart of the country and is home to the greatest cluster of rail sector businesses in the UK and indeed Europe making it a perfect location for the home of GBR.

"Investing in Derby is a therefore a clear vote of confidence for the rail industry bringing a host of job opportunities to the region and we look forward to working together with GBR on our plans, including the Midlands Rail Hub.”

Railway Industry Association chief executive, Darren Caplan, 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.”

The Midlands is already a transport supercluster for Britain: with the Department for Transport and HS2 already having bases in Birmingham, bringing GBR’s HQ to Derby will be a further boost to the region’s transport sector.

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