Julian holds debate in Parliament on York’s bid to host Great British Railways
November 24, 2021
Julian has today held a debate in Parliament on the subject of York’s bid to become the home of the new public body, Great British Railways. Responding to Julian was the Rail Minister, Chris Heaton-Harris, who will ultimately have a role in deciding the outcome of the bid.
Announced by the Government earlier this year, Great British Railways will bring the ownership and management of the railways under one structure, with the organisation responsible for collecting revenue, running and planning the network and setting most fares and timetables.
In today’s 30-minute debate, Julian set out York’s case to host GBR’s new national headquarters, citing the current and historic importance of the railways in York, its excellent connectivity and its central position within Yorkshire and the North East, home to the largest cluster of rail related industry in the UK. He also set out the unique opportunity of York Central in providing a city centre location for the new offices on regenerated land adjacent to the train station and National Railway Museum.
In his response to Julian, the Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris confirmed that the new headquarters would be based outside of London and that the Government was looking for a town or city with a strong rail heritage and skills base, with the capacity to act as the administrative centre for the national rail network. Whilst the bidding process is in its early stages, the Minister confirmed that York had been first in raising a comprehensive case for hosting GBR and that the contributions in Julian’s debate will be made available to the eventual decision-making panel.
Following the debate, Julian said:
“When announcing that the Government was looking for a location for the new headquarters of GBR, the Transport Secretary said the town or city would come to be known at the home of the railways. In today’s debate I set out directly to the Rail Minister why there is no better place for this than York.
Our city’s railway heritage is world famous, hosting the National Railway Museum for over 40 years. More than this though, we have unrivalled railway connections and a thriving modern day rail industry, employing over 5,500 people or 10% of the national railway workforce.
I also impressed on the Minister that York’s geographical location near the centre of Great Britain and the centre of the North of England makes it uniquely placed to deliver on the Government’s objectives of strengthening the Union and levelling-up. I am optimistic for these reasons that the strength of York’s case will cut through with the Government when the applications are considered.
We do however face a competitive process, and I was grateful today for the show of strength from neighbouring MPs Rachael Maskell, Kevin Hollinrake, Sir Greg Knight and Andrew Jones who all spoke strongly in support of York’s bid. I would also like to thank City of York Council for the work that they have put into the bid and briefing me of the latest details prior to the debate. Today’s debate was an important step, but going forward, it is vital that keep up the team effort across York and the surrounding area in getting this delivered for the region.”