Derby is expected to be named the new home of Great British Railways (GBR).
According to reports by the Guardian, the East Midlands city will be confirmed as the new home of GBR. Forty-two towns and cities applied to be the headquarters of the new public sector body, with the hope of financial investment for the winner.
The UK’s rail network is undergoing its biggest change in decades under restructuring plans. The new public body will take over responsibility for track and stations from Network Rail. The restructuring comes nearly 25 years after British Rail was broken up and the network was privatised. Here’s everything you need to know about GBR and what we know so far about where the new headquarters will be.
What is Great British Railways?
Great British Railways (GBR) is a new public sector body which will oversee rail infrastructure and services, as part of major reforms to the country’s rail network. According to the New Civil Engineer, the new body will own and manage infrastructure. Network Rail will be absorbed into the body, and the company’s executive, Andrew Haines, is in charge of structuring the reform as Transition Team Lead.
GBR’s aim is to simplify the rail network, improve services for passengers and take on functions from the Department of Transport. It was announced by then Transport Secretary Grant Shapps in May 2021 and was due to launch in 2024, but this date has since been delayed.
Where will the GBR headquarters be?
Reported by the Guardian, Derby will be named the new headquarters for GBR. Six towns across England were included in the shortlist, including : Birmingham, Crewe, Derby, Doncaster, Newcastle-upon-Tyne and York. Forty-two towns and cities had put themselves forward for the chance to host the new headquarters, however, there had been backlash as all of the six locations to make the shortlist were based in England, with no Welsh or Scottish location making the cut.
What has the transport secretary said about rail reform?
The Transport Secretary Mark Harper has confirmed the government’s support for railway reform. Speaking at the George Bradshaw address in February 2023 he reassured commuters by stating: “As a whole government, we are pressing ‘go’ on rail reform.” Reported by The Railway Journal, the Transport Secretary continued: “I’ve spent my first few months in this job listening to the experts,” he said, “to understand what’s holding back meaningful change and how we move forward.”
Harper reiterated that he was delivering the policy set out in the Plan for Rail in 2021 by former Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, adding that he was: “moving from the words to action.” He continued: “The railways need fundamental reform and that is what we will deliver. We know what the underlying issues are. A fragmented structure that quickly forgets the customer. Decision-making with too little accountability, but with too much centralisation. And a private sector rightly criticised for poor performance but with too few levers to change it.”
Are rail fares going up?
Rail fares are increasing, but the government has capped the price increase in 2023 to 5.9%, which came into effect on 5 March. The increase is 6.4 percentage points below July 2022’s RPI, with the aim to help reduce the impact from inflation on passengers.
Speaking about the cap, the Transport Secretary said: “This is the biggest ever government intervention in rail fares. I’m capping the rise well below inflation to help reduce the impact on passengers.” He continued: “It has been a difficult year and the impact of inflation is being felt across the UK economy. We do not want to add to the problem.” Adding: “This is a fair balance between the passengers who use our trains and the taxpayers who help pay for them.”