‘Dinner at the Roundhouse’ returns to the heart of the railways, Derby, on the 19th October as it has done for many a year, however there is a greater buzz than usual around this networking evening known across the entire rail industry. Why? Because of the announcement that Derby will be the location of the Great British Railways Headquarters. But why is this so important and what will it mean for businesses not just in Derby but in the wider UK? Read this blog to find out and discover how you can benefit from this massive change in the railways… 
1. What is Great British Railways and ‘Dinner at the Roundhouse’ exactly? 
Great British Railways was first proposed back in 2021 as a way to simplify the rail network and offer better services to rail customers. The idea is that a state-owned body should take over the everyday decisions of the railways – such as timetabling, fleet services, fare revenue, and taking responsibility for infrastructure as opposed to the complicated system that currently is run on a franchise system. GBR would be responsible for all rail lines in Britain – save those of Transport for London, Merseyrail and light rail and tram lines. Its creation is seen as the biggest shake up in rail for over three decades and its aims are to create a better experience for the passenger. 
As the GBRTT put it themselves on their website (https://gbrtt.co.uk/), ‘We are working to create a new organisation that will bring together decisions about track and train, provide accountable leadership, and lead the railway forward. We are also delivering improvements to benefit the railway’s customers now.’ 
‘Dinner at the Roundhouse’ has been described as the rail industry’s favourite networking evening’ and is a chance for over 800 rail professionals to gather together and celebrate collaboration and excellence within the industry. The event has been based in Derby for the last few years and always attracts the very best in the industry to meet, do business and to network. With supporters ranging from Porterbrook, Derby City Council and TXM to the GBRTT themselves, this is an event not to be missed. 
This year, we are excited to welcome representatives from the automotive industry who are looking to the event to help provide new opportunities for their industry as well as promoting growth across the East Midlands and beyond. 
2. How does GBR propose to improve things for the customer? 
Currently, the railways are based on a franchise system. If you have a fleet of trains, and there is space on the timetable, you can set up your own rail business. Unfortunately, this poses a few problems for the passenger including complicated fare prices, disjointed timetables and there was a lack of responsibility taken for failings and issues. 
The franchise system relied on passenger revenue to survive and, when the pandemic hit, public transport was hit hard. Many franchises failed and, rather than remove all services, the Government had to step in and provide emergency contracts to the tune of £3.5 billion. 
In order to avoid such a situation happening again, the Government decided to create an overseeing group to set timetabling and fares as well as placing the experience of the customer at its heart. In a model similar to that which exists on the KeolisAmey Docklands Light Railway, private companies pay a flat fee (which rises or falls due to GBR set performance targets) while GBR takes on all of the risk and any fare revenues. 
3. Why did they choose Derby as their new headquarters? 
Looking to ‘level up’ areas outside of London, GBR expressed their intention to establish their HQ in an area which enjoyed good connectivity, a rich heritage in railway history and widespread public support. 42 towns across the UK applied but Derby was the final choice. 
With a rich 200-year legacy as the centre of the rail industry in Britain, Derby is no train museum. It is at the forefront of the industry, employing thousands of workers, and at the heart of Europe’s largest and most diverse rail cluster. The city will therefore benefit from increased investment and opportunity brought by the decision to base GBR within it, however the move is also designed to ‘level up’ the Midlands as a whole. 
Although the headquarters themselves will be in Derby, other towns and cities will become regional GBR hubs, which will have local decision-making and investment powers. 
Transport Secretary Mark Harper said: Great British Railways will put the customer first, promoting collaboration and innovation across a joined-up, efficient and modern network.’ 
4. What’s Dinner at the Roundhouse got to do with GBR? 
Good question! This networking event is a favourite on the rail industry’s calendar, regularly attracting up to 750 of the rail industry’s greatest movers and shakers to Derby each year. 
The event has the reputation of, not only being the best place to do business, but also of attracting the best speakers. This year is no different with our keynote speaker being Andrew Haines – the CEO of both Network Rail and the Great British Rail Transition Team. He will be speaking to the assembled guests about the latest updates and progress in the team’s vision for GBR as well as expounding upon the economic and social benefits that such a move will bring to Derby. 
With representatives from Derby City Council, Toyota and Rolls Royce, this event seeks to show that the establishment of the GBR headquarters is something that will bring prosperity to all industries in the Midlands – not just within the rail industry. 
5. Can I get involved if I am not in the rail industry? 
Of course! It’s not too late to get involved with this fantastic event known across the rail sector as its favourite networking evening. With entertainment, a four course meal and extensive networking time, this is an event that should not be missed- especially if you are looking to build multi-industry collaborations both now and in the future. 
Click here to book your tickets today or, if you want to increase your exposure on the evening, why not check out some of our sponsorship options? With a range of options available from providing branded chocolates to having your brand displayed on-screen throughout the night, we can help you develop the right package for you and your business needs. 
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