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New competition announced to find first HQ of Great British Railways

Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, has announced that a competition will be run to identify the headquarters for Great British Railways (GBR), the single, accountable public body responsible for running Britain’s railways from 2023.

As part of major reforms designed to ensure decisions about the railway are brought closer to the passengers and communities they serve, GBR will require a new national headquarters alongside regional headquarters.

The government will soon launch a competition by welcoming expressions of interest with a commitment that the national headquarters will be based outside of London, ensuring skilled jobs, investment and economic benefits are focused beyond the capital.

The competition will recognise towns and cities with a rich railway history that are strongly linked to the network, ensuring the first headquarters will take pride of place at the heart of a new era for Britain’s railways.

The Transport Secretary also announced the creation of the GBR Transition Team under the leadership of Andrew Haines, who will continue to work as CEO of Network Rail.

The Transition Team will now be responsible for driving forward reforms and creating the railway’s new guiding mind.

They will initially focus on driving revenue recovery efforts post-Covid, bringing a whole industry approach to tackling cost and promoting efficiency, as well as establishing a strategic freight unit to boost the sector.

The Transport Secretary has also set out the core goals that will define GBR, including:

  • Changing the culture of the railways and not simply creating a bigger version of Network Rail.
  • Thinking like customers, both passengers and freight, and putting them first.
  • Growing the network and getting more people travelling.
  • Making the railways easier to use.
  • Simplifying the sector to do things quicker, driving down costs and being more accountable.
  • Having a can-do, not a can’t do culture.
  • Harnessing the best of the private sector.
  • Playing a critical role in the national shift to net zero.

GBR was commissioned in May 2021 as part of the Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail, which focuses on delivering sweeping reforms that create a truly passenger-focused railway.

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