Saturday, December 9, 2023

Wakefield bids to become new home of Great British Railways

Wakefield Council in partnership with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority has submitted a formal bid to become the new national headquarters of Great British Railways.

The bid is backed by Tracy Brabin the Mayor of West Yorkshire, Councillor Denise Jeffery Leader of Wakefield Council, alongside Leaders of all the West Yorkshire Local Authorities.

It sets out why Wakefield and West Yorkshire’s strong pool of talent, location, railway heritage, and opportunities to further support the regeneration of Wakefield’s city centre make it the ideal home for Great British Railways.

Tracy Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire, said: “Our region played a significant role in the birth of commercial rail in the UK, so I am happy to support Wakefield’s bid to be the headquarters of Great British Railways.

“Securing Great British Railways for Wakefield will be a powerful driver for the city’s recovery from the pandemic, bringing high value, well-paid jobs to the region.

“It will also give West Yorkshire a powerful voice in setting the national agenda for rail travel and support my priority to improve rail across the region and ensure we have a transport network fit for the 21st century.”

Cllr Darren Byford, Wakefield Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Economic Growth and Property, said: “With the backing of the West Yorkshire Mayor and the region’s leaders we are delighted to be bidding for such an opportunity, that aims to bring the headquarters and lots of well paid jobs to Wakefield.

“We have great connectivity, exciting regeneration plans for our city, and two city centre stations connecting to London in under two hours. Our proposed Headquarters site is located a short distance from the train stations, allowing us to provide sustainable travel options for visitors and staff members.

“The district also benefits from quality housing at very competitive pricing, offering a great quality of life for residents and potential new employees. With millions of people living within a 20-mile commute of the city centre, Wakefield offers access to skilled workforce within a short commute.”

Locating the headquarters in Wakefield would give Great British Railways access to strong talent with the largest pool of graduates in the North and the second largest pool of rail talent in the UK.

Within West Yorkshire, Wakefield is an excellent location to access some of the strongest rail engineering expertise in the UK, including the rail clusters in Doncaster, Darlington, York and Leeds, complimented by world-leading rail research facilities at the universities of Leeds and Huddersfield.

The bid proposes the planned office redevelopment on the grounds of the historic Westgate rail station in the heart of Wakefield city centre as GBR’s new headquarters.

This would offer access to the East Coast Mainline, and provide a highly accessible location at the centre of the UK’s rail network, as well as acting as a catalyst for further investment in Wakefield city centre.

Securing Great British Railways would also reconnect the city with its long and proud rail heritage. Wakefield was home to the world’s first public railway and rail wagon and carriages were manufactured in the city for over 130 years.

From 2023, Great British Railways will be a state-owned public body overseeing rail transport in Great Britain. It will operate rail infrastructure, control the contracting of train operations, set of fares and timetables, and collection fare revenue in most of England.

In October, the Secretary of State for Transport announced a competition to find a suitable location for Great British Railways outside of London.

The location of the headquarters for Great British Railways is a flagship investment by UK government and provides a once in a generation opportunity to level up towns and cities in the North.

If Wakefield is successfully shortlisted in May, the public will then have the opportunity to cast their vote for Wakefield as their preferred location.

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