THE UK Government has come under fire after it was revealed all six shortlisted locations for the new headquarters of Great British Railways (GBR) are in England.

Forty-two towns and cities applied to become the “home of Britain’s railways”. Five Scottish locations – Dundee, Edinburgh, Kirkcaldy and Dunfermline, Motherwell and Perth – took part in the initial stage of the competition while the rest were in England.

The six finalists, announced by the Department for Transport (DfT), are all south of the Border. They are Birmingham, Crewe, Derby, Doncaster, Newcastle-upon-Tyne and York.

GBR will be a new public sector body which will oversee Britain’s railways. It is set to absorb the state-owned infrastructure management company Network Rail and take on many functions from the DfT.

It will issue contracts to private firms to run trains in England, as well as setting fares, timetables and selling tickets in Scotland. 

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps came in for flak after announcing the six finalists on social media.

He listed the towns and cities using Union flag emojis as bullet points and announced a public vote was open, adding: “Who do you want to win? Vote here to make your voice heard.”

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The public vote is not binding, but will be “considered as part of final decision making”.

Twitter users were quick to point out that the finalists are all located in one part of Great Britain.

Plaid Cymru MP Liz Saville Roberts replied: “For GB see England.”

Scot lawyer Aamer Anwar posted: “Great Britain railways? Except all these towns & cities are all in England.”

And Welsh BBC broadcaster Huw Edwards added: “My understanding of 'GB' has been shattered here.”

BBC and S4C presenter Jess Davies replaced the Union flag emojis in the original tweet with English flags. "Corrected it for you," she wrote.

The “central headquarters” will provide strategic direction for the running of GBR, and bring “highly skilled jobs to the area”, the DfT said. There will also be “regional headquarters across the country”.

The Scottish Government said earlier this year it was still unsure how the new organisation will operate in Scotland, where ministers already control ScotRail and Network Rail spending.

Ministers have called for management of rail infrastructure to be fully devolved to Scotland, and say they were not consulted on the GBR plans.

Independent think tank Rail Reform Group branded the plan “a political ploy to support the UK Government’s ‘defend the union’ agenda". The group told The Courier in May that the project will “add complexity, confusion and reduce accountability” in the Scottish network.

Applications for the HQ were measured against six key criteria: alignment to levelling up objectives, connected and easy to get to, opportunities for GBR, railway heritage and links to the network, value for money and public support.

Shapps said: “Great British Railways will create a truly sustainable, modern and fair railway network for passengers and freight customers.

“I’m calling on people across the country to play a key part in this once-in-a-generation reform and vote for the new home of our railways.”

A spokesperson for Transport Scotlandc told The National: “Scottish ministers have been very clear that all rail policy, including the currently reserved functions of Network Rail, should be run from Scotland, which would help deliver better and more efficient services for Scotland’s communities. 

“The creation of Great British Railways threatens to undermine existing devolved competencies and the progress that the Scottish Government has made with the industry to reach a position of greater alignment and integration in decision making and delivery.”