Contact us
Hunters Law LLP
9 New Square
Lincoln’s Inn
London WC2A 3QN
Hunters Law
21st March 2023

All aboard for a new HQ for Great British Railways

All aboard for a new HQ for Great British Railways

As a regular train commuter, I must admit to missing the news a few years ago that Network Rail - the artist formerly known as Railtrack and before that British Rail - is to be replaced by a new public body called Great British Railways. 

Perhaps this is not a surprise given that there were just 388 million passenger journeys, a reduction of 78% from previous years, during the COVID-19 pandemic according to the Department for Transport (DfT). No wonder I was able to get a seat when I started coming into the office.

It is good to see that the cities shortlisted for the HQ were not London as there will no doubt be real benefits for Derby. Where headquarters are located is an important business decision as it can massively alter the perception of a company as well as give access to different skills and expertise.

I have negotiated a few HQ leases in my time, and it is always interesting to see the thought process and care in selecting a site and ensuring the premises meet the multitude of requirements. Given today's agile working, even more thought is needed to ensure that the premises meets the business needs, provides employees with a place they want to work in and flexibility to adapt to future changes.

Whilst it has been some years since I have dealt with operational railway property, my one fond memory of being a trainee solicitor was being thrust into a members' voluntary liquidation of Railtrack Group plc. Now that's a name I have not thought of for many years and is probably widely known these days. Its HQ was perhaps unsurprisingly London which sits, I think, in stark contrast to today's decision. Choo-choosing Derby sounds like the right decision.