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Full steam ahead for York’s Great British Railways bid

17/03/2022 News
 Full steam ahead for York’s Great British Railways bid

City leaders have submitted York’s bid to be the home of the headquarters of Great British Railways.

The bid follows extensive consultation with city and regional partners and rail leaders. It includes an extensive list of reasons why York would make the best home for the headquarters of Great British Railways (GBR). Amongst these are:

  • York is at the heart of the UK rail network.
  • there is no better place to achieve the Government’s Levelling Up ambitions, helping to lift Yorkshire’s strongest economy into the top quartile of UK cities, providing opportunities to millions of people, businesses and communities across Yorkshire and the North East
  • York Central presents a unique opportunity to create Britain’s biggest rail cluster - it's the largest city centre brownfield site in England and already has Enterprise Zone Status and outline planning permission for 2,500 homes and 1million sq. ft. of Grade A offices - Network Rail are already a key landowner in the site, which also includes the £60m expansion of the National Railway Museum
  • equidistant from London and Edinburgh, locating in York would help GBR to strengthen the ties between England and Scotland, as highlighted by the Union Connectivity Review
  • York’s rail workforce is young, skilled and diverse - the breadth of York’s skills base, across rolling stock, engineering, planning and the digital future, creates an incredibly strong sector, which can both contribute towards and benefit GBR
  • in York, we are committed to developing an internationally renowned rail skills centre of excellence - York’s rail businesses are working with us to develop their workforce including social mobility - the White Rose University cluster includes significant rail expertise such as the University of York’s Institute for Safe Autonomy, while York is already home to Network Rail’s Operating and training centre, controlling train operations across the North East of England
  • ]regularly topping best place to live polls with outstanding childcare and education, people want to come to York, whether to work, to study or for leisure
    within only an hour's train travel of York is 10% of the most deprived areas in the UK, with our travel-to-work area encompassing West, South, North and East Yorkshire, Teesside and the North East - placing GBR in York, immediately next to the railway station, unlocks huge private sector investment and economic opportunity across the north east
  • our railway heritage is unrivalled, York is the most important location outside of London for the running of the railways - we're the place that not only built the trains and carriages, but also the rail networks, business models, management expertise and innovation, we're home to the National Railway Museum, and to 100 rail companies and 5,500 rail jobs focussed on the operation and development of the network, with a significant private sector cluster providing services key to GBR’s mission

For more information on York’s bid visit City of York Council's website or York & North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership's website

To show their support, residents, visitors and businesses are encouraged to use the hashtags #DestinationGBR, #YorkGBRHQ and #Yes2York.

Councillor Keith Aspden, Leader of City of York Council said:

"York’s unique rail heritage, position at the heart of the UK’s rail network as well as our highly skilled young workforce makes York the natural home for Great British Railways.

“York is ready today – we have the sites, skills and connectivity to ensure success from day one.

“Basing GBR HQ here in York would also unlock employment and opportunity across Yorkshire and the North East, helping level up some of the communities worse hit by the pandemic across the region. York is ideally placed for GBR HQ with a rail campus already within minutes of the station and strengths in digitalisation, data and safe autonomy. We are keen to work with the Government to maximise the opportunities York brings.

“I want to thank all the partners locally and regionally who have supported the development of this bid. It is testament to the strong case we are presenting that so many have already backed it. If successful, the next stage will be a public vote and we will be sharing details of how residents and businesses can vote for York as soon possible.”

The shortlist is expected to be announced by the government in May and there will then be a public vote to help decide the winner. A number of partners are aboard York’s bid:

Helen Simpson OBE, Chair of York & North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership said:

"The York Central site presents an opportunity for GBR to have impact as an anchor for a world leading rail cluster, driving growth and new opportunities, not just in York, but across the whole of the North.

“The York & North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership has worked collaboratively with the City of York, with industry and business partners in setting out the proposition. The proposal for York is a true private and public sector submission and builds on the Enterprise Zone status and existing investment into the York Central site.”

Sarah Czarnecki, Deputy Chair of Hospitality Association York (HAY), Board Member York BID and Director of Grays Court said:

"York is the spiritual heart of the UK railway industry. Voted the Best Place to live in the UK, this accolade is enhanced by our accessibility as a place to work and visit. The York Central development and other large-scale investment projects coming to the city make us the perfect location for the new Great British Rail Head Quarters to thrive and flourish.”

Professor Charlie Jeffery, University of York Vice-Chancellor, said:

“We look forward to working with our partners across the city in helping make this exciting bid a reality.

"York is ideally placed to be the home of Great British Railways, with our research and expertise playing a fundamental role in this bid.

"Through our Institute for Safe Autonomy, we’re leading new technologies in safety critical sectors like transport, across the areas of AI, Machine Learning, Robotics and Autonomy.”

Rob Hickey, Chief Operating Officer at York St John University said:

"York is a natural fit for Great British Railways with fantastic infrastructure, a talented workforce, knowledge economy and a railway history since the days of the Industrial Revolution.

"The city’s universities stand prepared to support this bid and be an engine for the skills needed across the sector in the future”.


Photo shows, from left to right:

Cllr Keith Aspden, City of York Council; Professor Miles Elsden, University of York; Andrew Digwood, West & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce; Sarah Loftus, Make It York; Helen Simpson OBE, Chair of York & North Yorkshire LEP; Sarah Czarnecki, Hospitality Association York; Stephen Lusty, York Civic Trust;  Rob Hickey, York St John University; David Dickson, Deputy Chair, York & North Yorkshire LEP; Andrew Lowson, York BID.

Press release originally published by City of York Council

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