About the HQ competition

Britain’s railways are embarking on a major, once in a generation reform that will transform the way in which the sector works, bringing together track and train to deliver a simpler, better railway for everyone.

A commitment to establish Great British Railways was made in May 2021 as part of the Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail, focused on delivering a truly passenger-focused railway. It will serve as a single, accountable public body responsible for running Britain’s railways.

As a new organisation, with a new culture, focused on serving the interests of everyone in Britain, Great British Railways will need a new national headquarters. 

In October 2021, the Secretary of State for Transport announced that a competition will take place to find a location for the headquarters outside of London.  

The competition aims to identify a place with a rich railway heritage, strong links to the national network and significant public support, while creating a great opportunity to promote the location as the proud home for the start of a new era in Britain’s railways. 

The Great British Railways national headquarters selection process is being run by the Great British Railways Transition Team (GBRTT) on behalf of the Department for Transport (DfT).

Please use the hashtag #DestinationGBR when talking about the competition online.


The selection process for the Great British Railways national headquarters competition consists of four stages: 

Stage 1 

Expressions of interest: Applicants were invited to express their interest in hosting Great British Railways, explaining why their designated town or city is best suited to meet the criteria for the national headquarters.

The deadline for submitting an Expression of Interest was 16 March 2022.

Stage 2 

Shortlisting: The team at GBRTT assessed the Expressions of Interest to shortlist the towns and cities that most effectively demonstrated the selection criteria.

The shortlist was announced on 5 July 2022

Stage 3

Visiting the shortlist: Government Ministers and GBRTT representatives will visit each of the shortlisted towns and cities to gain a greater understanding of prospective locations’ intentions for the headquarters and to engage local communities ahead of a public vote.

Public vote: GBRTT is hosting a non-binding, online vote, giving the public the opportunity to vote for their preferred location from the shortlist. The vote will take place around the visits to use the positive momentum and information shared during the visits to inform the public for their vote. The result of this vote will be used to measure the level of public support for each location and will be considered as part of final decision making.  

The visits and public vote are taking place between 5 July to 15 August 2022.

Stage 4 

Decision: The Secretary of State for Transport will make the final decision considering all elements of the process, including the following factors: 

  • GBRTT’s assessment of the applicants' EOIs against the selection criteria 
  • The understanding gained from the visits (as is relevant to the selection criteria) 
  • The result of the public vote 
  • Other public duties (such as managing public money) 

Announcement: The Secretary of State will make a public announcement regarding the selected location later in 2022. 

More information about the competition 

To contact GBRTT about the competition, please email: HQCompetition@gbrtt.co.uk.