Lincolnshire could host new rail headquarters?

A Lincolnshire economy chief wants the county to host the new headquarters of the government’s Great British Railways (GBR).

Coun Colin Davie, Lincolnshire County Council’s economy and environment portfolio holder told the authority’s Environment and Economy Scrutiny Committee on Tuesday there was “at least one location in Lincolnshire” that could host the facility.

The GBR is being created as part of a series of reforms by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps and aims to be “a single guiding mind that ends the fragmentation of the rail industry”.

It forms part of the government’s Levelling Up White Paper and plans to decentralise a number of government organisations away from London.

In February, Mr Shapps launched a competition to find the new home for the organisation, saying it “will be based outside of London and bring a number of high-skilled jobs to the winning location”.

Locations across the country with “strong historical links to the railway” have been encouraged to make a case to government.

Councillor Davie told the committee: “I am clear there was at least one location in Lincolnshire that could host that facility and we are exploring whether that opportunity is something we can pursue proactively.”

He said the White Paper would shift the budget spend away from London and balance out regional inequalities.

Following the meeting, Coun Davie told Local Democracy Reporter Daniel Jaines the council was going through the assessment form and there could be at least two locations.

He did not think it would lead to an immediate increase in train services, however, said it would bring national attention to the county and cement the government’s promises to level up the area.

“We are very clear that we want government to invest some of its facilities into our county, because that is how you level up – getting people out of London and the regions governed by London – so they can understand better what it’s like for people like us to live in places like Lincolnshire,” he said.

“It’s about making sure that London sees the challenges and problems of rural areas that are completely different to that of urban city landscapes.”

He added the council would continue to explore all the opportunities offered by the government.

The government says the chosen areas will see their local economies boosted by investment and be put at the heart of decision making.

Launching the competion in February, Mr Shapps said: “Our railways have kept this country moving for almost 200 years, but it’s time to kickstart a new age that will shape our network for the next 200.

“I’m calling on people across the country to make the case for why the true home of the railways is on your doorstep.”

A possible location for the new headquarters could be Grantham, on the important East Coast Main Line, and very close to the historic run by the Mallard which claimed the world speed record for steam locomotives at 126 mph in 1938.