Derby has been selected to host the national headquarters of Great British Railways

UK: Derby has been selected to host the national headquarters of Great British Railways, with the Department for Transport saying it had come top in both the assessment process and the public vote.

There were 42 expressions of interest in being the home of GBR, and Derby was shortlisted along with Birmingham, Crewe, Doncaster, Newcastle and York.

Derby scored highest in the expression of interest stage of the competition, which analysed its suitability against six 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.

Announcing Derby as the winner on March 21, DfT said the city’s application had demonstrated strong links to the rail network, well-established connections with the industry, supply chain and customers, and an extensive cluster of private sector rail businesses.

GBR’s Transition Team will now work with the city to identify a physical site for the headquarters. GBR will also operate from a series of regional hubs with local decision-making and investment powers.

Responses to the decision

East Midlands Railway train

Leader of Derby City Council Councillor Chris Poulter said ‘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’.

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’. He added that ‘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’.

Chief Executive of Rail Partners Andy Bagnall said ‘the strength of competition for the HQ from other great railway cities up and down the country speaks to the transformative power of rail as an engine for green growth. Legislation in the next parliamentary session is now the critical next step to establishing Great British Railways and maintaining momentum for reform’.

Will Rogers, Managing Director, East Midlands Railway, commented that ‘although Derby has a proud rail history, we also know it has a bright and exciting future too’.

Alstom Derby academy

Nick Crossfield, Managing Director, Alstom UK & Ireland noted that ‘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’.

Elaine Clark, CEO of regional industry association Rail Forum, added that ‘the local cluster of rail companies sits at the centre of a wider ecosystem of innovation that GBR will be able to tap into’.

Chris Swan, Chair of the Rail Freight Group, said it was ‘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’.

Justin Stroud, Managing Director, Europe at Sperry Rail said ‘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’.