Great British Railways launches HQ competition

Towns from across the country are encouraged to apply to become the new home for the rail infrastructure operator – and Barrow has already thrown its hat in the ring.

News of the competition was first announced in October last year. At that time, Crewe and Derby had both expressed interest in having the HQ. However, sources close to the matter told Place North West that York was heavily tipped as the preferred location for the Great British Railways home base.

Regardless, any town and city in the country can now enter to have the HQ. Each application will be assessed using six 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

A shortlist of possible HQ homes will be released in May. Afterwards, government ministers and representatives from Great British Railways will visit the shortlisted towns. The public will also be able to give its feedback by participating in a non-binding online vote.

According to Great British Railways, “the result of this vote will be used to measure the level o public support for each location and will be considered as part of final decision making”.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps said: “Our railways have kept this country moving for almost two hundred years, but it’s time to kickstart a new age that will shape our network for the next two hundred.

“I’m calling on people across the country to make the case for why the true home of the railways is on your doorstep.”

Shapps will make the final decision on where the HQ will be located, by examining how the shortlisted towns compare on the criteria listed above, the results of the ministerial visits and the public vote, as well as other public duties – which Great British Railways suggests could include “managing public money”.

The winning location will be announced this summer.

According to Cumbria Crack, Simon Fell, MP for Barrow and Furness, is leading the charge for Barrow to win the competition.

“Barrow’s strong, historical links to our nation’s railways make it an ideal location for the new Great British Railways headquarters – which is why I’m leading our bid,” he is quoted as saying.

Fell cited the Furness Railway’s history as the reason Barrow should win the competition.

“Ten thousand people are employed in that national endeavour and it is no exaggeration to say that without the Furness Line, without 175 years of rail in the region, Barrow’s role in the world would be very different indeed,” he said.


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How come towns outside of London need to compete for funding/ these HQ relocations ?

By Meeseeks

@Meeseeks, as long as London also needs to compete on an equal footing, it seems logical to have competition around the country to host HQs for various National groups like this

By Jo

It seems really odd that Barrow is putting their claim in, based on the fact that some small railway thing happened there. Barrow is in the middle of nowhere and a tiny village. But good luck to them. York, being high in the rankings for this seems right. It’s near the middle of the UK, in the North, has a large railway history and the national rail museum. It feels like the right place. Of course, I’d prefer it to go to Manchester (and not just because I live there), it is the 2nd city of the UK now, in the North, a large city that needs more national HQs as is typical of second cities, has a huge railway history and is the focal point of railway journeys in the north. But I’d be happy with York.

By Jo

Exactly. Totally agree.

By Anonymous

I’m sure it will get a lot of people in Crewe excited, only to be dashed as it goes to the place they’ve already decided for it to go.

By Rich X

My money is on the Cotswolds, or Rock, Cornwall. Or York, less than 2 hours from London on the East Coast Mainline. Certainly no where where HS2 isn’t going, which is the whole of the North, possibly Manchester excluded.

By Mad as a


By Anonymous

For as long as the government persists with these “competitions”, rather than being based on justified argument, levelling up is a fantasy.

I suspect the alternative would just expose it as an outright lie.

By Jeff

Barrow is a small village? The small village which makes nuclear submarines.

By Elephant

York or Crewe are obvious choices. Why is it a competition?

By Disgruntled Goat

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