Full list of Great British Railways HQ hopefuls released

Liverpool City Region, Greater Manchester, Crewe and more are in the running to host the new headquarters of the rail infrastructure operator.

Great British Railways will be replacing Network Rail and, as part of the government’s levelling up agenda, will have its headquarters outside of London.

All those bidding will be assessed on the following criteria:

  • Alignment to levelling up objectives
  • Opportunities for Great British Railways
  • Railway heritage and links to the network
  • Public support
  • Value for money
  • Connected and easy to get to

While securing the headquarters of Great British Railways has the potential to be significant, it is worth noting that it will not likely mean lots of office space. Government advice to bidders emphasised that the headquarters is meant to house corporate functions, host meetings and provide a base for a modest amount of staff.

The government will be releasing its shortlist of candidates for the GBR HQ in May.

The full list of entrants is as follows:

  1. Barrow
  2. Birmingham
  3. Bishops Stortford
  4. Bolton
  5. Camborne
  6. Carlisle
  7. Carnforth
  8. Coventry
  9. Crewe
  10. Darlington
  11. Derby
  12. Didcot
  13. Doncaster
  14. Dundee
  15. Durham City
  16. Eastleigh
  17. Edinburgh
  18. Fife
  19. Gloucester
  20. Grantham
  21. Greater Manchester (excluding Bolton and Rochdale)
  22. Heywood
  23. Hull
  24. Liverpool City Region
  25. Milton Keynes
  26. Motherwell
  27. Newcastle
  28. Northampton
  29. Nuneaton
  30. Perth
  31. Peterborough
  32. Preston
  33. Southampton
  34. Stockton-on-Tees
  35. Swindon
  36. Tamworth
  37. Tonbridge
  38. Wakefield
  39. Wellingborough
  40. West of England Combined Authority (including Bristol and Bath)
  41. Worcester
  42. York

Liverpool City Region Combined Authority and St Helens only announced their interest in the bid last week. Their push is to have the headquarters at Parkside in Newton-le-Willows.

“While many places claim to be the home of the railway, there can be no denying our borough really does hold that title,” said St Helens council leader David Baines.

“It was the birthplace of Stephenson’s Rocket, saw the very first modern passenger railway with the opening of the Liverpool Manchester Railway in 1830 and the first railway viaduct in the world at Sankey Valley,” Baines continued.

“But ​it’s not just our history that makes St Helens a first-class choice. Parkside is poised to become one of the most strategically important employment sites in the North West and lies at the heart of the City Region’s freeport plans, with the site forming the largest freeport tax site.”

The Parkside site was chosen by St Helens based on its connectivity – it is located on the M6 Growth Corridor and will have a Strategic Rail Freight Interchange.

In the leadup to then, St Helens Council will be working alongside Liverpool City Region Combined Authority to get support and backing from businesses in the region.

MP for St Helens North, Conor McGinn, has already shared his support for the scheme.

“St Helens’ unique rail heritage, existing connectivity and a highly skilled workforce makes the town a very fitting location for the heart of the national rail industry,” he said.

“St Helens most definitely has a great advantage in becoming the home of Great British Rail, but it will be up against stiff competition, so I urge everyone across the region, individuals, communities, businesses and partners to get behind St Helens bid and help bring GBR home,” he added later.

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No chance for the north west , the conservative government are putting ( with a few exceptions) most of the new investment into the new red wall seats which they want to hold at the next general election , in Teeside , parts of Yorkshire and the north east . We need to be holding our conservative MPs to account for their governments clear favouritism to the north east of the country irrespective of the often stronger case for north west investment

By George

Why are Rochdale and Bolton excluded from the GM bid?

By Elephant

Hmm..are we all expected to dance now now for the crumbs from the great levelling up agenda? Are we going to have this song and dance every time something moves out of London? On the plus side I suppose that means it’s not going to happen too often. I await with baited breath the civil service relocations. My breath has been baited an awful long time already.

By Charles in charge

While I have no doubt that all this ridiculous “bidding” keeps lots of council staff in jobs, I doubt that either is a good use of our taxation, or particularly effective in levelling up anywhere.

Liverpool city centre still has large parcels of land which are derelict due to bomb damage from WWII. Maybe start with that sort of criteria?

By Jeff

The Government will locate it in a two way tory marginal seat.

By Monty

If one of the criteria is ‘connected and easy to get to’, you have to question the sanity of Barrow’s MP who has championed their bid.

By BLS Bob

Crewe probably has as good a chance as any. Historical links to the railway industry, well connected now, and a tory gain from labour at the last election

By Disgruntled Goat

As already said, it wont come down to historical significance or suitability… it will be a political choice somewhere with a marginal seat.


I believe York should be the natural choice.
Is there something I can do to help the process?

By Paul Stansfield

The only sensible decision is Derby. It is central, well rail-linked, and above all else actually has the skills base.
If anyone thinks skilled railway engineers and operators are moving to Barrow, Bangor, Falkirk, Liverpool or St Helens, they must be VERY stupid. At a time when the rail industry is already short of skilled staff (due to a decade of Major’s Gov trying to get the industry die in the 1990s where there was no meaningful recruitment of bright young things). Simply the most experienced will take redundancy payoffs and retire.

By Robert Albert Jobb

The only place is Doncaster! Doncaster has the skill base, extensive history in Rail, excellent central line rail link and central in the country for motorway links for staffing HQ

By Anonymous

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