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Why GBR’s National Headquarters Needs To Be In The North

4 min

After Transport for the North (TfN) launched a campaign in support of the four shortlisted locations in the North of England bidding to be the new home of GBR, Quadrant Transport highlights the strategic advantages of being in the North.   

After Transport Secretary Grant Shapps revealed the public could vote on where Great British Railways’ (GBR) headquarters will be based, voting closes on 15 August, with the Transport Secretary making the final decision later this year.  

With six areas making the shortlist, four from the North managed to make the cut. Crewe, Doncaster, Newcastle-upon-Tyne and York are all hoping to be the home of GBR.  

The Case For GBR To Be In The North Has Never Been Stronger

The case for the North to host the HQ is undoubtedly strong. For one, the North is geographically located at the heart of the GB Rail Network and in proximity to major hubs with the main North-South rail arteries of ECML and WCML passing through it.  

It is already home to many rail businesses, and over the next two decades, major projects such as HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail will be built in the North, making the region a railway powerhouse.  

TfN explained that their rail heritage is unrivalled as the region is the birthplace of the country’s rail network, and basing GBR HQ here would be a kind of homecoming for the railway.  

Basing the GBR HQ in the North will further help ‘Levelling Up’ the UK by bringing some high-skill jobs and investment to the region and supporting many already here. From now until the close of polls, TfN will be helping to make a case for each of these locations to ensure that GBR HQ is #NorthBased. 

Martin Tugwell, CEO of TfN, released this statement: “The new Great British Railways’ headquarters can be anywhere, as long as it’s here in the North. TfN will make a case for it to be based here in the heart of the country over the coming weeks.  

Our country’s national railway is over 200 years old, but few people know that our rail network was born here in the North of England with the very first railways and stations. By basing GBR here, it will be a homecoming

Continuing, Martin Tugwell explained: “It will also make the most strategic sense for the country as many rail businesses and supply chains are here in the North, and the region straddles two of the main rail arteries in the UK in the East Coast Mainline and West Coast Mainline and will be the location for the biggest rail investment over the next three decades in Northern Powerhouse Rail and HS2.  

GBR Needs To Be In The North, But Where?

Developing the business case for the GBR HQ to be in the North Cheshire East Council, deputy leader Cllr Craig Browne said: “Crewe is at the heart of the rail network and is the gateway to the North. It is the only northern candidate with direct connectivity to the capital cities of England, Scotland & Wales. The town was born out of the railway, and bringing Great British Railways to Crewe would be a fitting next chapter in its rail story.”  

Batting for Newcastle-upon-Tyne to be the winner, North of Tyne Mayor Jamie Driscoll said: “This would be a symbolic homecoming and a fantastic opportunity to create new jobs. The North East was once the home of the locomotive – it should be again.   

Adding to this, they said: “Rather than leaving the north behind, we should be putting it first by basing the railways here, and Newcastle offers a perfect location for GBR linked to heritage sites and the facilities to support a 21st-century headquarters.”  

Fighting for York to be hailed victorious, North Yorkshire County Council leader Cllr Carl Les said: “The benefits of the Integrated Rail Plan will be felt right across the North of England and to have the new home of Great British Railways in the region will help to achieve the government’s Levelling Up ambitions.” 

Doncaster is an archetypal railway city and the place that built the world-famous Flying Scotsman and the Mallard. It is ideally placed to be the new home of Great British Railways in the heart of South Yorkshire and as a gateway to the North

Following this, South Yorkshire Mayor Oliver Coppard said: “The people who live and work in the North deserve a rail network that is fit for purpose. Having Great British Railways based here would be a big step in the right direction and will help highlight the region’s needs.”   

The message from TfN is clear, GBR’s national headquarters can be anywhere as long as it’s in the North.