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Council submits bid to bring Great British Railways ‘home’ to Swindon

The Business Magazine article image for: Council submits bid to bring Great British Railways ‘home’ to Swindon
21 March 2022

Swindon Borough Council has submitted its bid in the competition to find the new home of the nation’s railways – the headquarters of Great British Railways.

The Government is looking for a new headquarters outside London for Great British Railways (GBR), which will become the single, accountable body responsible for running Britain’s railways.

Locations across the country with strong historical links to the railway are being encouraged to make the case for why they should be the new home of GBR.

The new central headquarters will be the heart of the rail network and provide strategic direction for the running of GBR.

Swindon’s rich railway heritage and its ambition for Great British Railways to be at the centre of a world-leading rail cluster that will herald a new golden era for Britain’s railways, much like Brunel did 180 years ago, are important elements of the bid, which has cross-party support.

All bids will be measured against six key criteria, including considering how GBR will align with levelling up objectives, its location, opportunities for GBR and public support.

A short straw poll undertaken by the council over the weekend showed almost a thousand people (95 per cent of respondents) were supportive of Swindon putting in a bid.

The GBR transition team will shortlist the best applications in May, after which a public vote will help determine the winning location.

Leader of the council, David Renard, said: “The railways are part of Swindon’s DNA and I believe there is no better place for the new Great British Railways to have its headquarters.

“Our town is steeped in our railway heritage and we tick so many of the boxes the Government is looking for in the successful bid. We will be keeping our fingers crossed our entry is shortlisted and, if we are, we will be going all out to secure as much support as we can from the public vote.

“In the meantime, please spread the word with family members, friends and colleagues because we will need everyone’s help to bring the railways back to its rightful home here in Swindon.”

Councillor Jim Grant, leader of the Labour Group, said: “Swindon’s unique railway heritage makes it the ideal candidate for the Great British Railways HQ.

“The town can offer a central location to act as a hub for the railways in a way none of the other competing towns can. We have history, culture, location and the facilities to do it.

“Swindon has a winning combination and has the full support of the Swindon Labour group. This can be a win for the town, and I am proud to say everyone I have spoken to is behind the Council on this. Swindon is behind this.”



Peter Davison is deputy editor of The Business Magazine. He has spent his life in journalism – doing work experience in newsrooms in and around Bristol while still at school, and landing his first job on a local newspaper aged 19. By 28 he was the youngest newspaper editor in the country.

An early advocate of online news, he spent the first years of the 2000s telling his bosses that the internet posed both the biggest opportunity and greatest threat to the newspaper industry and the art of journalism. He was right on both counts.

Since 2006 he has enjoyed a career as a freelance journalist. He lives in rural Wiltshire with one wife, two children, and three cats.

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