The Department for Transport (DFT) has visited Birmingham to assess its suitability to become the home of the headquarters of the new Great British Railways (GBR).
Minister of State for Transport, Wendy Morton MP, was given a tour of the city by West Midlands Mayor Andy Street and other stakeholders, to see first-hand the opportunities that are available here.
GBR is the new body set up by Government to oversee the nation’s rail transport, with both responsibility for infrastructure, replacing Network Rail, and contracting rail services, setting and collecting fares and organising timetables.
Birmingham has made the shortlist to become the new HQ and is in the running with Crewe, Derby, Doncaster, Newcastle-upon-Tyne and York which are also facing a public vote - which closes on Monday, August 15.
The Government are also looking for strong local support and proof that GBR will find a warm welcome in Birmingham – which is why people are being asked to show their support.
Speaking during the visit, Malcolm Holmes, Director of Rail for Transport for West Midlands, said: “Birmingham is absolutely the right place for the future headquarters of Great British Railways - it’s the obvious choice.
“We have the talent here that an organisation like GBR will need. It also will attract people to come and work in the region. And there’s loads of other government departments based here so you have the opportunity for career progression as well.
“On top of that, we have the youngest and most diverse population in the country, here in Birmingham, with incredible universities, incredible graduate talent, that will be able to feed Great British Railways. In short, it is the place where GBR can best deliver improvements to the national rail system.”
“The benefits for Brum will be, first of all, having the base of Great British Railways here means that the decisions about the UK rail network and our rail network will be based here in the region - by people living in the region. So that’s something really specific for us.
“But on top of that, it’s bringing jobs to the region. So it’s bringing jobs, prosperity and opportunity to level up for the people of the West Midlands.”
Speaking about the process, Morton said: “The chances of Birmingham winning the GBR HQ competition, and look - it’s one in six, I’m absolutely impartial.
“But what I’ve seen today is the strength of the Birmingham argument to be the HQ for GBR. So the purpose of me coming to visit Birmingham and indeed each of the six shortlisted towns and cities is that they can make their pitch, as it were.
“And that’s what the government has been doing for me this morning - showing me the the opportunities that are here. I’ve just been at the University - to the Research Centre - I’ve been on a trainer driver simulator actually.
“I’m here standing out looking at the Curzon street site. So I can see for myself the opportunities that are here, but today is about the process. And Mayor Andy Street, the leader of Birmingham City Council, are the stakeholders that are here setting out to me and my team at DFT why they believe they should be the ones that are successful in having the headquarters for GBR.”
The government will take into account a public vote when deciding where to locate the GBR HQ. To have your say, visit wmca.org.uk/gbr.
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