Derby, the location for Modern Railways RVE 2021, is staking its claim to be the location for the headquarters of the new Great British Railways organisation. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced the launch of a competition to host GBR’s offices on 4 October. GBR will be the central player in the running of the network once rail reform is implemented, and Mr Shapps said the winning location would be ‘the future capital of our railway industry’.
Derby City Council had unveiled its bid on 17 September, with city leaders, politicians and a number of leading businesses and stakeholders writing to Mr Shapps setting out Derby’s case.
‘Derby is at the centre of the rail industry – we have 11,000 rail-related jobs here’ Derby City Council’s Chief Executive Paul Simpson tells Modern Railways. ‘There’s no better place to bring together the industry and Government to make decisions about the future of rail.’
The city already had one eye on the Government’s plans to relocate 20,000 civil service jobs away from London as part of the levelling up agenda. ‘Derby has one of the lowest concentrations of civil servants of any city of its size, so if the Government is serious about levelling up and relocating civil servants Derby has a very strong case’ says Mr Simpson. ‘When the creation of GBR was announced, the two themes came together well.’
The bid chimes with the City Council’s aims to support Derby’s recovery from the pandemic, with the aim of diversifying the city’s economy.
With its central location and good rail links, Derby would be well positioned as a base for GBR. Mr Simpson suggests GBR would be an ideal anchor tenant for a Grade A office block being built as the third phase of the Becketwell development, which also features apartments and a performance venue.
Speaking of performance venues in Derby… make sure you don’t miss Modern Railways RVE show 2021 being held at Derby Arena in Derby on 4 November. With industry leading speakers speaking at the Fourth Friday Club’s Rail in the Midlands Conference, as well as an exhibition and RVE BigIdea run in association with Rail Forum Midlands, it’ll be one not to miss! Make sure you register here ahead of the show.
Decarbonisation is a key topic, not just for rail but for the economy at large, and Mr Simpson says Derby is looking to be at the centre of innovation. ‘We’re working with the University of Derby and have aspirations for the city to be a centre for future fuels’ he explains. ‘Our mobility app, with a focus on public transport, is the first of its kind in the UK. We’re also aiming to focus on hydrogen as part of decarbonising Derby’s economy – many of our major businesses are built on burning carbon, and sustainability is going to be really important for the future.’
Derby has long been described by many as ‘the heart of the rail industry’, and thus an ideal host location for Modern Railways RVE on 4 November. Should it become the host city for GBR, that would be truer than ever.