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.