Hosting new railway HQ will benefit whole of West Midlands, says Mayor

Andy Street has urged people to back plans to bring the new organisation responsible for running Britain's railways to the West Midlands.

Great British Railways will be tasked with running the country's rail infrastructure
Great British Railways will be tasked with running the country's rail infrastructure

The region has been shortlisted to host the headquarters of Great British Railways (GBR), a new public body tasked with delivering an integrated national rail network.

And the West Midlands Mayor is calling on people to take part in a public vote that will influence the final decision.

Birmingham is one of six places to make the shortlist, along with Crewe, Derby, Doncaster, Newcastle and York.

Mr Street said hosting the GBR HQ would benefit the whole West Midlands by putting the region in the "driving seat" to make the case for local rail investment.

He told the Star: "Having the Great British Railway headquarters in Birmingham would be great news for the West Midlands as a whole – we already have more than 40,000 directly employed in the rail sector and supply chain, including those many companies working on HS2.

"We are also leading the way on innovation – the Very Light Rail Centre at Dudley is a fine example, while we are training the next generation of engineers at Wolverhampton’s Rail Technology Centre.

"It would also put us in the driving seat to get our cases heard as we look to further grow and expand our regional rail network.

"That is why the bid is being led by the West Midlands Combined Authority and why we are urging people across our region to vote for Birmingham."

Ministers are set to make a final decision later this year, based on locations meeting a set of criteria.

They are: alignment to ‘levelling-up' objectives; connected and easy to get to across the UK; opportunities for Great British Railways; railway heritage and links to the network; value for money; and public support.

In its bid, the West Midlands Combined Authority describes Birmingham as "the logical home" for the headquarters.

It says: "We believe Birmingham is the logical home for Great British Railways’ (GBR) HQ.

"The strategic fit is clear - GBR will sit alongside a number of rail operators, key suppliers and advisors to the sector, alongside innovation and research expertise.

"GBR HQ will cement Birmingham as the UK’s rail hub, creating a truly collaborative industry with an unrivalled skill base, and a centre of excellence for rail."

The WMCA has proposed potential sites at 5 Centenary Square, Grand Central and a Grade II-listed office block at Baskerville House.

The public vote runs until August 15.

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