Minister of State for Transport, Wendy Morton MP, visited Newcastle yesterday (25 July) as part of her tour of the six shortlisted destinations for the new home of the Great British Railways headquarters (GBR HQ).
Newcastle beat off stiff competition from over 40 UK towns and cities to be shortlisted alongside Derby, York, Crewe, Birmingham, and Doncaster. The competition is now open to a public vote which ends 15 August.
The visit provided an opportunity for the minister to gain a greater understanding of why Newcastle is a city of opportunity, with excellent connectivity, a rich history of innovation and railway heritage, and is the rightful home of the GBR HQ.
Arriving at Newcastle Central Station, the Minister was greeted by city leaders, councillors, key figures from the North East business community and young people to help showcase the region-wide support for the bid and the positive impact it will have on residents, visitors and business for generations to come.
The visit included a tour of The Goods Yard and Stephenson Quarter, which are proposed sites for the location of the GBR HQ, a presentation at The Common Room, a key hub of Newcastle’s innovative history and a stakeholder event at North East Futures UTC.
The minister heard from North of Tyne Combined Authority Mayor Jamie Driscoll, Chief Executive of Newcastle City Council Pam Smith, councillors and local MPs as well as young people from across the region who gave their insight into what having the GBR HQ in Newcastle would mean to them as the next generation, and the future of the city.
Talented young poet, Papi Jeovani gave an emotive spoken word performance which reflected the impact of the GBR HQ locating in Newcastle could have on inspiring a future generation, building aspiration across the region and providing opportunities for employment for residents.
Newcastle’s bid to become the new home of the GBR HQ was based on four key themes: the city’s strong railway heritage and history of innovation, the opportunities for government to demonstrate commitment to the levelling up agenda, the connectivity of the city as a gateway to the rest of the UK and the opportunities Newcastle can give to the GBR HQ such as being a leading city in data, innovation and tech, as well as having an existing talent pipeline with a college that delivers a one-of-a-kind Rail and Civil Engineering Academy, developing new graduates for the rail industry.
Sam Cassidy, Inward Investment Manager, Invest Newcastle (part of NewcastleGateshead Initiative), said:
“Newcastle is the home of the railways, and our rich history of innovation, fantastic connectivity and opportunity to demonstrate commitment to the levelling up agenda makes a strong case for us to be the home of the GBR HQ.
“Today was a fantastic chance to demonstrate this to the minister as well as showcase the amount of public and private sector support that we have for the bid.
“Both the bid and the visit have been a city-wide effort and we couldn’t have done it without the support of the public, our business community and stakeholders across the region.”
In May 2021, the Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Schapps, committed to establishing Great British Railways, a single, accountable public body responsible for Britain’s railways, and announced the shortlisted towns and cities earlier this year.
Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, said:
“This is fantastic news for Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Our world-leading railways have well-served this country for 200 years and this is a huge step in our reforms. As the home of railway firsts like the UK’s first combined road and rail bridge, Newcastle-upon-Tyne has all the potential to help shape our network for the next 200 years and level up the lives of its residents and communities.
“Great British Railways will create a truly sustainable, modern and fair railway network for passengers and freight customers.
“I’m calling on people across the country to play a key part in this once-in-a-generation reform and vote for the new home of our railways.”
The public vote is open until 15th August. The Secretary of State will then make a public announcement later this year.
To find out more and vote for Newcastle, visit: https://www.ngi.org.uk/great-british-railways-hq-vote-newcastle/