Derby selected as new home of Great British Railways

Following a long search, the UK Government have announced Derby as the new home of Great British Railways.

Derby GBR

Credit: Derby City Council

Derby has been chosen by Government to be the new home of Great British Railways (GBR). The city has been selected to be the location of the new GBR headquarters, beating off fierce competition from the other shortlisted finalists Birmingham, Crewe, Doncaster, Newcastle and York.

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. Derby scored highest in the Expression of Interest stage of the competition, which analysed its suitability against six published criteria: levelling up, connectivity, opportunities for GBR, value for money, heritage and public support. It also scored highest in the six-week public vote, attracting 45,600 votes, more than 5,000 ahead of the second placed location in a total vote of 205,000.

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

Derby GBR

Credit: Department for Transport

Up until now Derby has had one of the lowest concentrations of civil service jobs in the country. The move to Derby will not only bring key jobs into the city but a strategic government operation. It also means that Derby will play an even more pivotal role in the future development of the railways, with the city already being the centre of one of Europe’s largest rail clusters

Great British Railways will be the new public body responsible for running Britain’s railways. It aims to deliver the most ambitious changes to British railways in a generation, working with the Government and across the rail sector – ‘creating a better, simpler railway for everyone in Britain’. The exact location of the headquarters in Derby is yet to be confirmed.

The rigorous selection process was based on a bid submitted in March 2022, followed by a Ministerial visit to the city in August and a national public vote. The public vote ran for six weeks over the summer of 2022. Historical ties with railways and good train connectivity to other places were among the criteria used to decide the shortlist.

“We’re absolutely thrilled that Derby has been selected to become the new home of Great British railways,” Councillor Chris Poulter, Leader of Derby City Council, said. “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. Not only do we have Europe’s largest rail cluster centred right here in Derby, but we also have a rich history of being the only city in the UK to have manufactured rolling stock continuously since 1840. I’m thrilled that Derby’s heritage is being recognised in this defining way.

The widespread regional support for the bid was represented by Midlands Connect, East Midlands Councils, East Midlands Chamber, Marketing Derby and the D2N2 LEP. Derby’s bid also had support from 22 MPs and all 40 local authorities across the East Midlands, including Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Nottingham, Leicester and Leicestershire, representing over three million people from across the region. Significant support for the bid came from the rail sector itself – including the likes of Alstom, Costain, Resonate, Sperry, Loram, Train FX and East Midlands Railway – plus Derby College and rail innovation orientated universities of Derby, Loughborough and Nottingham.

Reactions to the news

“Derby is the heart of Britain’s rail industry, and a key cluster for advanced engineering manufacturing with the likes of Alstom, Rolls-Royce and Toyota; it is the natural choice to host Great British Railways,” Nick Crossfield, Managing Director, Alstom UK and Ireland said. “Alstom directly employs 2000 of our people in the city and our factory is a leading global centre for train design and advanced manufacturing. Importantly, it is the only site in the UK where trains can be designed, developed, built and tested – as we will be doing for the next generation train for HS2. Having GBR in the city will help foster greater rail sector collaboration and help attract and retain the young people so vital to all our futures.”

“This 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,” Darren Caplan, Chief Executive for the Railway Industry Association, said. “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.”

“It is absolutely fantastic news that the home of EMR will also be the home of Great British Railways, too,” Will Rogers, Managing Director for East Midlands Railway, said. “Although Derby has a proud rail history, we also know it has a bright and exciting future too and we look forward to working closely with GBR, as well as the current rail and engineering cluster to deliver a better and simpler railway for the country in the years to come.”

GBR will be the guiding mind, and set the strategic direction for, the future of Britain’s railway.

“GBR will be the guiding mind, and set the strategic direction for, the future of Britain’s railway,” Elaine Clark, CEO for Rail Forum, said. “Derby is the perfect location for the HQ with access to world-leading supply chain expertise not just in rail but in other transport sectors also. The local cluster of rail companies also sits at the centre of a wider ecosystem of innovation that GBR will be able to tap into. GBR is the future and we are delighted that its home will be here in Derby – our own home for the last 30 years.”

“It’s good to see real progress towards the establishment of Great British Railways as a guiding mind for the industry, and the news that the new HQ will be in Derby is welcome progress in driving forward ambitions for the railways,” Chris Swan, Chair of the Rail Freight Group, said. “Railfreight is vital to the UK’s economic success and there is a real opportunity to make a step change in the amount of freight moved by rail across the country. It’s therefore essential that GBR’s freight and regional teams work closely to ensure the delivery of quality service to freight customers and enable private sector rail operations to flourish.”

“Sperry is delighted that Derby has been selected as the new home for GBR,” Justin Stroud, Managing Director for Europe at Sperry Rail, said. “Centred geographically in the middle of the UK and surrounded by the largest group of leading railway suppliers, Derby is absolutely the perfect place for the new headquarters. This news gives Sperry continued incentive to invest in its European head office, based here in Derby, and help give local talent the opportunity to be globally successful – affirming again Derby’s prominence as centre of international railway excellence.”

 “I am thrilled to hear Derby has been selected as the home for the new Great British Railways HQ,” Maria Machancoses, Chief Executive of Midlands Connect, said. “It is an excellent choice; 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.”

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