A debate has been scheduled in Westminster Hall from 2.30pm on Tuesday 6 December, on changes to the Southeastern railway timetable. The debate will be opened by Clive Efford MP.
Several Westminster Hall debates have been held on possible locations for the headquarters of Great British Railways, including York, Darlington, Carnforth, Crewe, Derby, Swindon and Stockton.
Great British Railways
In May 2021, the Government’s White Paper on rail reform, the Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail (The Plan) set out its plan to create a new public body, Great British Railways, to run the railway in Great Britain. The new body is due to be established in 2024. The Government launched a consultation on the legislation to establish GBR in June 2022, which is due to form part of the Transport Bill announced in the Queen’s Speech.
Role and responsibilities of GBR
Once established, this new body will take on many of the functions currently undertaken by the Department for Transport, Network Rail and the Rail Delivery Group (RDG). In the Plan ,Government has said GBR will “run and plan the rail network, own the infrastructure, and receive the fare revenue.” GBR will also “procure passenger services and set most fares and timetables.”
How will GBR be structured?
The Plan outlined that GBR will have a regional structure to ensure the railway reflects the needs of the towns, cities and regions it serves. Key strategic decisions will be taken centrally, with operational matters led by five regional divisions.
More information on the Government’s rail reforms is set out in the Library’s paper on the Future of Rail.
The headquarters of Great British Railways
On 5 February 2022, the Government announced a competition to help determine the location of GBR’s headquarters, which will be outside London. The competition is being led by the Great British Railways Transition Team (GBRTT).
Who could apply?
Local authorities in England, Wales and Scotland had until 16 March 2022 to express an interest. On 19 April 2022, the Rail Minister, Wendy Morton MP, confirmed that 42 expressions of interest had been received.
The GBRTT has been assessing bids against six criteria.
The criteria includes practical considerations such as the value for money of the proposed location and how easy is it to travel there by rail and other sustainable modes.
GBRTT is also looking at the opportunities the proposed locations could offer Great British Railways, such as how it will support the new body’s engagement with its customers, the rail industry and other bodies.
Bids are also being judged on their rail heritage and how they support the Government’s Levelling-Up agenda.
On 5 July 2022, the Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, announced the shortlist in a Written Statement, which confirmed that Birmingham, Crewe, Derby, Doncaster, Newcastle upon Tyne and York had been shortlisted for the competition.
From 5 July to 15 August 2022, GBRTT is holding a public vote to help determine the location from. The Secretary of State for Transport is due to make the final announcement later in 2022.
More information on the competition is available on GBRTT’s webpage, National Headquarters Competition for Great British Railways.
Official shortlist announced to choose home of Great British Railways, DfT, 5 July 2022
Great British Railways: Headquarters, Written Statement, 5 July 2022
National Headquarters Competition for Great British Railways, Great British Railways Transition Team
Great British Railways: Stockton-on-Tees, House of Commons Written Answer, 19 April 2022
Oral evidence: Great British Railways, House of Commons Transport Select Committee, HC 1076, 30 March 2022
Great British Railways Headquarters: Crewe Bid, House of Commons Debate, 29 March 2022
42 towns and cities launch their bid to become new home for Great Britain’s railways, Great British Railways Transition Team, 18 March 2022
Great British Railways Headquarters: Carnforth Bid, House of Commons Debate, 8 March 2022
Great British Railways, House of Commons Written Answer, March 2022
Great British Railways, House of Commons Written Answer, 9 February 2022
Great British Railways Competition ‘cringeworthy and ill-judged’ says former rail boss, Independent, 7 February 2022
Public competition launched to find new home for Britain’s railways, DfT, 5 February 2022
This briefing will discuss the Government's Bill to make provision about minimum service levels in connection with the taking by trade unions of strike action relating to transport services.
This briefing answers Frequently Asked Questions about the railways in Great Britain, including railway ownership and funding; timetabling; the Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail; ticket fare increases; HS2; Northern Powerhouse Rail; and railway electrification.