MPs and mayors urge Transport Secretary Grant Shapps to back Doncaster for Great British Railways HQ

Doncaster politicians of all colours have all backed the prospect of the borough being chosen as the new home of Great British Railways (GBR).

By George Torr, Local Democracy Reporter
Monday, 28th March 2022, 12:14 pm

All three Doncaster MPs and the mayors of Doncaster and South Yorkshire came together at the Danum Rail Heritage Centre to sign a letter to the Transport Secretary urging him to back the borough.

Against a backdrop of two steam locomotives built in Doncaster emphasising the town’s 180-year long history of association with the railways, the five leading politicians presented the key reasons why the headquarters of the new body being set up to run the railways should be based in Doncaster.

The letter sets out how Doncaster ‘meets all the criteria’ set out by Government for places wanting to host the headquarters.

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Dan Jarvis, Ed Miliband, Rosie Winterton, Ros Jones and Nick Fletcher all sign a letter urging the Transport Secretary to back Doncaster in its bid for the HQ of Great British Railways (GBR)

The politicians all set out Doncaster’s rail heritage, the central position on the rail network, excellent connectivity to all parts of the country and how having the headquarters would be a major stimulus to the town and South Yorkshire.

Doncaster Council has said that the bid has support not just from Doncaster but across Humberside and Bassetlaw.

Support is also demonstrated by the presence at the signing of leading business representatives from Doncaster and Sheffield Chambers of Commerce and the South Yorkshire LEP.

In total, 42 towns and cities had made a bid to host the headquarters when expressions of interest closed on March 16.

An extract of the letter submitted to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps

The Department for Transport is now preparing a shortlist which is expected to be announced in May.

There will then be visits by officials and Ministers to those sites and a public vote will be held which will be taken into consideration when a final decision is announced in the summer.

Great British Railways is the new public body being established to run the railways. It will bring together the functions and responsibilities currently held by Network Rail and the franchising operations of the Department for Transport.

Mayor of Doncaster Ros Jones said: “Doncaster more than meets all the bid criteria stipulated by the Government, making it the ideal place in South Yorkshire to locate Great British Railways.

Dan Jarvis, Ed Miliband, Rosie Winterton, Ros Jones and Nick Fletcher all sign a letter urging the Transport Secretary to back Doncaster in its bid for the HQ of Great British Railways (GBR)

“Doncaster has been a rail town dating back to the 1840s. World famous locomotives such as the ‘Flying Scotsman’ and ‘Mallard’ were built here and families have generations who have worked on the railways or in related industries.

“This continues to this day with over 50 businesses in the town associated with the industry making it a natural base for the headquarters.”

Ed Miliband, MP for Doncaster North, said: “I am so proud of Doncaster and what it has to offer the whole country as the rail headquarters. This bid has united the town and region across business, higher and further education and local community groups as well as politics.

“I am confident that the quality of our bid means we deserve to be shortlisted and I urge the public to back Doncaster when it comes to the public vote.”

Doncaster Railway Station

Nick Fletcher, MP for Don Valley, said: “There would be no greater sign of the Government’s commitment to levelling up the area than bringing the home of Britain’s railways to Doncaster and I will continue making that case to ministers in Westminster.”

Dame Rosie Winterton MP for Doncaster Central, said: “Doncaster’s rich rail history, alongside our vibrant rail cluster and strong links to the network, make it the ideal home for Great British Railways.

“We have several places just minutes from the rail station that would be a perfect location for the headquarters.”

Mayor of South Yorkshire, Dan Jarvis said: “Locating the HQ in Doncaster will be a major boost for the whole of South Yorkshire, confirming it as a centre of rail excellence, helping to attract further investment and create more skilled jobs.

“Doncaster and the wider region has the skills, the facilities, the potential, and the heritage to help shape the government's plans to transform the way the sector works.”