Railway news

New HQ for Department for Transport in Birmingham and hub in Leeds

Railway news

The Department for Transport (DfT) is to open a second headquarters in Birmingham and a northern hub in Leeds by 2025.

A total of 650 jobs will be created across the two cities by that date as part of the plan, the DfT said. The department’s existing headquarters in Westminster will be maintained.

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Earlier this month Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that the UK’s first infrastructure bank will be based in Leeds, while Darlington, Co Durham, will be the home of a new Treasury campus.

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The Government is attempting to move 22,000 civil service roles out of London by 2030.

It also wants half of senior roles to be located outside the capital by then.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “This is a historic move for the department and part of a significant wider culture change across Whitehall.

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“Transport is absolutely vital to the local communities we serve and having hubs in major cities like Birmingham and Leeds will offer a fresh perspective on how we can better serve these areas.”

The Birmingham headquarters will include new ministerial offices, with ministers expected to spend a “significant amount of time there”, according to a DfT statement.

Transport minister Chris Heaton-Harris said: “Our department has a key role to play in this Government’s drive to level-up across the country.

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“Having hundreds more roles based outside of London will not only bring an economic boost for Birmingham and Leeds, but also ensure we are delivering the changes people around the country want.”

Conservative West Midlands Mayor Andy Street claimed the region had “undergone a transport revolution” in recent years, including through reopened railway lines, expanded tram routes, an upgraded bus fleet and a new cycle hire scheme.

“The DfT will be right at home here, and I look forward to welcoming the team to the best-connected region in the UK,” he said.

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In December 2019, Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged to “remedy the scandal that Leeds is the largest city in western Europe without light rail or a metro”.

It emerged in January that statutory transport body Transport for the North was winding down its £150 million smart ticketing programme after the DfT cut its budget.

In a written parliamentary answer, transport minister Baroness Vere said the Government was “considering how best to deliver the rollout of smart ticketing”.

Leeds City Council leader James Lewis said the DfT’s plans for the city highlight “the importance of Leeds, not just to our region but to the north of England and the UK”.

He went on: “Investment in transport is central to our plans for the future and I hope the presence of more decision makers in our city helps ensure the case for further investment in Leeds is heard.”

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Sam Hewitt

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