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Creation of Great British Railways in Queen’s Speech



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The creation of a new public sector body to oversee Britain’s railways which could be based in Grantham has been included in the Queen’s Speech.

Great British Railways (GBR) will “simplify” the rail network and improve services for passengers, according to a Downing Street briefing document on the Transport Bill.

It will absorb the state-owned infrastructure management company Network Rail and take on many functions from the Department for Transport.

The town is bidding to host the headquarters of the new organisation, building on the town's rich rail history.

Private companies will continue to operate trains under Great British Railways (Luciana Guerra/PA) (56572452)
Private companies will continue to operate trains under Great British Railways (Luciana Guerra/PA) (56572452)

GBR will issue passenger service contracts to private companies to run trains.

The briefing document stated that it will “act as the single national leader of the railways”, with “a clear mandate, goals and budgets set by the Government, who will reserve powers of direction”.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps launched the competition in February for towns and cities to make the case why they should host the headquarters of the organisation with Lincolnshire putting forward Grantham as a strong contender.

Improvements are planned for Grantham railway station. Photo: Peter Alvey (38529817)
Improvements are planned for Grantham railway station. Photo: Peter Alvey (38529817)

Speaking in March, Councillor Colin Davie, Lincolnshire County Council's economy and environment portfolio holder explained: "[Grantham]'s got a long railway heritage history.

“The railway came to Grantham in 1850 and in the 30s and 40s it was the absolute centre of the railway industry.

“60 of the biggest locomotives were based at the loco depot in Grantham, including the Mallard and The Flying Scotsman for a period of time.

“The location of Grantham 100 miles north of London, on the main line with the East West trajectory to Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, and the southeast, I think makes it a really strong location.”

“The landownership around the railway station, most of which is in the hands of national rail, makes it a perfect site.”

The Prince of Wales sits by the Imperial State Crown during the State Opening of Parliament in the House of Lords, London (Ben Stansall). (56573617)
The Prince of Wales sits by the Imperial State Crown during the State Opening of Parliament in the House of Lords, London (Ben Stansall). (56573617)

The Transport Bill is also aimed at enabling “innovation” and providing “new choices for the public”.

It includes measures relating to private e-scooters, which are currently banned from use on public roads and pavements.

The Bill features legislation to allow self-driving and remotely-operated vehicles and vessels.

It supports the rollout of more electric vehicles chargepoints as part of the transition from petrol and diesel models.

This State Opening of Parliament was a historic moment with the Prince of Wales delivering the Queen’s Speech for the first time in history.

Heir to the throne Charles, in his Admiral of the Fleet uniform, took on the monarch’s constitutional duty in the House of Lords amid the pomp and ceremony of the State Opening.

It is the first time in nearly 60 years that the Queen, 96, has missed the occasion. The last time was when she was pregnant with Prince Edward.

The Prince of Wales processes behind the Imperial State Crown through the Royal Gallery (Hannah McKay/PA) (56574725)
The Prince of Wales processes behind the Imperial State Crown through the Royal Gallery (Hannah McKay/PA) (56574725)

She reluctantly pulled out on the advice of royal doctors due to her continued mobility problems, but watched the proceedings on television from Windsor Castle.

Charles was joined by the Duke of Cambridge, with the pair jointly opening Parliament on the Queen’s behalf as Counsellors of State after the monarch delegated the important duty to them.

The 73-year-old prince sat not on the sovereign’s throne, which had been removed, but on the consort’s throne, which used to be occupied by his father, the Duke of Edinburgh, and which Charles has used in recent years.

A space remained next to him, where the Queen’s missing throne is usually located, under the opulent canopy, with the monarch’s Imperial State Crown in front on a velvet cushion.



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