Campaign launched to bring Great British Railways to Birmingham

West Midlands leaders have issued a rallying cry to the region to get behind Birmingham’s bid to become the new national headquarters for Great British Railways.

The #DESTINATIONGBR #VOTEBRUM campaign is now launched after Birmingham’s bid, led by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), was among those shortlisted by the Department for Transport.

The campaign will show that Birmingham is the natural choice for GBR as it is at the heart of the country’s rail network and a rail industry hub including home to HS2’s head office. With a young and diverse population the move would also support the Government’s levelling up agenda, help attract further investment and create high-skilled jobs.

Campaign launched to bring Great British Railways to Birmingham

New Street Station

GBR is the new body set up by Government to oversee the nation’s rail transport, with both responsibility for infrastructure, replacing Network Rail, and contracting rail services, setting and collecting fares and organising timetables.

But as well as a compelling case on paper the Government are also looking for strong local support and proof that GBR will find a warm welcome here – which is why people are being asked to show their support.

To vote for Birmingham follow this link:

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, and chair of the WMCA, said: “Birmingham combines a unique rail heritage with an unparalleled concentration of modern expertise that means we are ideally suited to shape the next century of railway excellence by playing host to the GBR headquarters.

“A Birmingham base would put GBR at the heart of the nation’s rail network and close to its customers - with 94 million rail journeys made here in the region each year.

“Birmingham as well as the wider West Midlands is already at the forefront of innovation in transport design, policy, planning, technology and engineering – thanks in part to our central role in flagship projects like HS2 and Very Light Rail.

“This means we are blessed with a wealth of talent to draw on as we look ahead to the future of the railways and a wonderful chance to bring jobs, civic pride and economic opportunity for our local residents. The momentum is with us and if GBR chooses Birmingham as its home, then it’s full steam ahead.”

Cllr Ian Ward, WMCA portfolio holder for transport and leader of Birmingham City Council said: “More and more major investors and organisations are choosing to relocate in Birmingham and the wider West Midlands because this region is well-connected, has quality office space and offers a great quality of life.

"Great British Railways would receive a warm welcome here in Birmingham and, as Europe’s youngest and most diverse city, with a deep and diverse pool of talent, this city is in a unique position to help create a railway that’s both inclusive and fit for the future.

“This would also be great for our city, bringing jobs, supporting our local businesses and pulling in even more investment, which is why I strongly encourage people to get behind the city’s bid and show your support.” 


Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps said:  “This is fantastic news for the city of Birmingham. Our world-leading railways have well-served this country for 200 years and this is a huge step in our reforms. With Birmingham paving the way for hydrogen-powered trains, it 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.” 

A huge 42 cities and towns came forward to place their bids to be the home of GBR HQ.

Applications were measured against six key criteria:  

  •  Alignment to levelling up objectives 
  • Connected and easy to get to 
  • Opportunities for GBR 
  • Railway heritage and links to the network 
  • Value for money  
  • Public support 

The creation of GBR was announced as a major pillar of the once-in-a-generation reforms launched by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps in the Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail just over a year ago. GBR will be a single guiding mind that ends the fragmentation of the rail industry and drives benefits and improvements across the network for passengers and freight customers.

Leader of the Great British Railways transition team, Andrew Haines, said:   “A big congratulations to Birmingham, Crewe, Derby, Doncaster, Newcastle and York for reaching the final stage in the Government’s competition to find the national HQ for Great British Railways.

"Since the competition was launched it has been great to see the interest from towns and cities across Britain who believe GBR’s home should be with them. I am really looking forward to the next step and seeing which town or city has the honour of being the home for GBR. Good luck to the final six.”