As Great British Railways is set to take the reins of the UK railway network, the Department for Transport (DfT) has launched a competition to find a new appropriate headquarters.
UK transport secretary Grant Shapps has launched a competition to find the Great British Railways a head office, the new state-owned public body in charge of British Railways from 2023.
The Department for Transport (DfT) announced that the new headquarters must be based outside of London, accepting bids especially from cities that have a deep-rooted railway history or strong links to the sector.
The decision to have GBR’s headquarters outside of the capital was to bring capital and talent to other areas of the country.
Shapps also announced the creation of a transition team under the leadership of Network Rail chief executive Andrew Haines that will work on reforming the British railway network.
The GBR transition team will initially tackle how to get the network back on its feet post Covid-19, later focusing on how to cut costs and promote industrial and environmental efficiency.
Great British Railways was initially created in May 2021 as part of the Williams-Shapps plan for rail. The plan, named after the transport secretary and the chair of the Rail Review, was considered one of the biggest shake-ups in the history of UK railways because it introduced a state-owned public body after decades of intense privatisation.
“We will end three decades of fragmentation by bringing the railways back together under a new public body with a single, national leadership and a new brand and identity, built on the famous double arrow,” wrote Shapps in May.
“Great British Railways will run and plan the network, own the infrastructure, and collect most fare revenue.”
The Williams-Shapps plan did not completely exclude the private sector from railways but set up contracts with industry partners to operate the trains.
“These reforms represent a bold new offer to passengers – of punctual and reliable services, simpler tickets and a modern, green and innovative railway that meets the needs of the nation,” he continued.