Doncaster is calling on the public to get behind its bid to become the home of the Head Quarters of Great British Railways.
A competition to provide the national home for the new organisation to run the railways, Great British Railways (GBR), has been announced and around a dozen towns and cities across the country are bidding for it.
The Government has said that the location must be outside of London to bring jobs and investment opportunities and support levelling up in another part of the country. Other criteria include that places bidding should have a rich railway history, are strongly linked to the network, have good connectivity, be able to offer value for money and be able to demonstrate public support.
Great British Railways is a new public body which will run and plan the rail network. Its establishment was announced as part of the Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail, published in May 2021. GBR will own the rail infrastructure, procure passenger services and set most fares and timetables. It will also receive a proportion of rail revenue to help fund its work. It will take over responsibilities from Network Rail and some of the functions of the Department of Transport.
Given Doncaster’s historic links with the railways dating back to the 1850s and as the birthplace of the Mallard and Flying Scotsman, its central position on the East Coast Main Line and its air, rail and road links, the town considers that it is ideally placed to host the headquarters of GBR.
In addition, Doncaster is arguing that basing the HQ in the town will bring benefits throughout South Yorkshire and to neighbouring areas as it will further underline the strength of the rail industry cluster in the region. This will help to attract further investment and create more jobs directly and through the supply chain required to support the cluster. Through this, and by directly creating highly qualified and high wage jobs on its own, having the HQ will contribute to the levelling up of the region.
Do you back the bid?
The public are being urged to get involved by indicating why they think the HQ should be based in Doncaster through completing a short survey and submit their comments so please tell us what you think.
The competition will consist of four stages that will enable GBR to find the most suitable candidate for the national headquarters.
Stage 1 – Expression of Interest deadline: 16 March 2022
Stage 2 – Shortlist announced: May 2022
Stage 3 – Ministerial visits to shortlisted places and a public vote: May 2022
Stage 4 – Headquarters’ location announced: Summer 2022
The Government has said that the future home of the GBR HQ must meet strict criteria and demonstrate this as part of the bid. These are:
- The location must be outside of London
- The place must have railway heritage and links to the network
- It must be connected and easy to get to
- The place must be aligned to the Government’s levelling up objectives
- The location must provide opportunities for GBR
- It must be value for money
- The location must have public support
Bidders have to submit an expression of interest by 16th March. A shortlist will be determined by the GBR transition team in May. There will then be a public vote to indicate support for each of the shortlisted bidders which help influence the determination of the winner.
- Alignment to Levelling Up objectives: Applicants will need to demonstrate how they are currently and plan in the future to support delivery of the government’s levelling up missions and reducing regional disparities across the UK, as set out in the Levelling Up White Paper.
- Connected and easy to get to – Locations should be easy to get to by rail and other sustainable modes and well connected to the nations and regions of Great Britain. Applicants should also demonstrate a location’s ability to support social and economic ties between towns and cities across the UK.
- Opportunities for Great British Railways – Applicants should demonstrate how the location can effectively enhance engagement with customers, the private sector and the wider rail industry.
- Railway heritage and links to the network – The competition will recognise towns and cities with a rich railway history that are strongly linked to the network.
- Value for Money: Applicants should demonstrate how they can maximise efficiency and affordability, including through use of the existing publicly and/or railway owned estate, to deliver value for money for taxpayers and customers.
- Public Support: Applicants should demonstrate the importance of the national headquarters to their local communities, identity and values.
Doncaster is the town that built the world famous Flying Scotsman and Mallard and is today recognised as one of the most important rail hubs in the UK and at the centre of developing the next generation of rail skills and expertise.
Rail has been a major part of Doncaster’s economy for over 150 years; companies based in Doncaster benefit from easy access to the rail industry with an unrivalled combination of location, established supply chain, skilled workforce and world-class training facilities.
With a long history of representation from rail freight operators, rolling stock suppliers, power supply and distribution, infrastructure maintenance and the operational railway, the sector continues to diversify in line with the emerging requirements for the industry.
What's in it for Doncaster and South Yorkshire?
Securing GBR HQ will help maintain and further develop Doncaster’s reign at the heart of the rail industry. Rail isn’t just about our heritage it’s about our future too, our residents and our workforce.
Locating the GBR HQ development in Doncaster could also significantly support town centre regeneration and complement recent and current Government investment through the Local Growth Fund, Get Building Fund, Towns Fund and the Levelling-Up Fund.
Securing GBR will transform the heart of Doncaster town centre and bring a brand new audience to the town generating additional spend and further attract GBR customers, supply chain representatives and colleagues to visit, live and work in Doncaster.
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