York council leader Keith Aspden has spoken of his fears that the government wants to ditch plans for Great British Railways.
GBR would be a new public sector body which will oversee Britain’s railways.
The organisation was set to simplify the rail network and improve services for passengers by absorbing the state-owned infrastructure management company Network Rail and taking on many functions from the DfT.
A competition was launched to find the location of the GBR HQ. York was one of six cities shortlisted, and it was expected to start work in 2024.
GBR was the brainchild of Grant Shapps when he was Transport Secretary. But he was sacked by new Prime Minister Liz Truss, and there have been recent reports in the national press that the plans are to be abandoned.
Now City of York Council leader Keith Aspden has written to the new transport secretary and government chief whip urging them to go ahead with GBR.
City of York Council submitted its bid to host the HQ on 16 March, with the backing of partners across the city.
Moving the GBR HQ to York could have a major impact on the local economy. It is estimated that it would add £110 million to York’s economy, creating 1,600 new jobs.
Cllr Aspden told YorkMix: “We are worried, if you see the rumours in the national press, that the government is thinking of shelving not just potentially having a new HQ for GBR, but all of the principles behind Great British Rail as well.
“There’s a lot of modernisation that needs to happen with railways – making tickets cheaper and easier for residents.
“But obviously for York, it would be a huge bonus to be able to attract GBR to the city. So we certainly don’t want to see the government taking any backward steps.”