Bid to bring HQ of Great British Railways to Doncaster backed by all South Yorkshire mayoral candidates
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Conservative Clive Watkinson, Labour’s Oliver Coppard, Lib Dem Joe Otten, Green Party candidate Bex Whyman, SDP candidate David Bettney and Simon Biltcliffe from the Yorkshire Party have all backed the bid.
GBR is a new public body which will run and plan the rail network. Its establishment was announced as part of the Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail, published in May 2021.
The public body will own the rail infrastructure, procure passenger services and set most fares and timetables.
As well as referring to the town’s rail heritage with world-famous locomotives such as the ‘Flying Scotsman’ amongst hundreds built in Doncaster, they point to its continuing close involvement with the rail industry. This includes Unipart Rail’s HQ, Hitachi’s Rail Maintenance Depot and two major rail logistic hubs.
The candidates also highlight that the benefits of having the headquarters in Doncaster will be spread across South Yorkshire which has an established rail cluster with some 200 firms connected with the industry.
They also argue that placing the headquarters in the region would be a ‘major boost’ confirming it as a ‘centre of rail excellence and attracting further investment’, which will assist the area in levelling up.
The skills needed by the headquarters and the rail industry will be provided by borough and regional institutions including the National College for Advanced Transport and Infrastructure and Sheffield University’s specialist rail and steel research and development work at the AMRC, they say.
In the letter, they say: “If the HQ is located here, GBR will benefit from ease of access to all major UK centres given its central position on the rail network. “Doncaster is also one of the most economical places in the UK to do business, a wide, easy to access staff catchment area, low housing costs and a very affordable quality of life.
“Placing the HQ in South Yorkshire would both demonstrate the Government’s commitment to levelling up and would provide GBR with the ideal home.
“Regardless of who is elected on May 5, we are making the commitment today to give Doncaster’s bid our full support and we urge you to make South Yorkshire the home of Great British Railways.”