Derby will host the headquarters of Great British Railways, Transport Secretary Mark Harper confirmed on 21 March.
The decision had been widely trailed before the announcement and the city scored highest of the major contenders in the expression of interest stage of the competition for the location. It was rated highly against the criteria of levelling up, connectivity, opportunities for GBR, value for money, heritage and public support, on the latter point winning the most votes in the public competition last summer.
Mr Harper said in a written statement to Parliament: ‘Derby will become the heart of Great Britain’s rail industry, bringing together track and train, as well as revenue and cost. This means we will finally treat the railway as the whole system it should be rather than a web of disparate interests that it’s become. Passengers will no longer face the excuse-making and blame-shifting of years past. Instead, GBR will be wholeheartedly customer-focused, serving as the single point of accountability for the performance of the railway. The rail campus, led by GBR HQ, will help position the industry to achieve this.’
He promised that GBR ‘will put customers at the heart of its reforms’, ‘reinvigorate the role of the private sector’, and that ‘buying tickets and ticket prices will be easier, simpler and fairer’.
Regional GBR hubs are planned with the intention of giving them decision-making and investment powers ‘aimed at benefiting their local communities’. It is understood that while the original intention was for these to be based on the current Network Rail Regions, this is being reviewed by the Transport Secretary with Rail Minister Huw Merriman.
A site for the headquarters will now be identified, but the exact number and composition of staff to be based there is yet to be determined. The transfer of staff from existing locations will be a matter for consultation, and the number of staff to be accommodated and the facilities needed will all be factors in determining the exact site for the HQ within the city of Derby.