A GROUP of MPs is backing a bid for Great British Railways to be based in York.

As The Press reported earlier this month, transport secretary Grant Shapps today kickstarted a competition to find the town or city that will become home to GBR, which will be the single, accountable public body responsible for running Britain’s railways.

Now York Outer MP Julian Sturdy has written to Mr Shapps in support of York’s bid. The letter was co-signed by North Yorkshire MPs Nigel Adams, Andrew Jones, Kevin Hollinrake and Robert Goodwill who are also getting behind the campaign to bring the new public body to York.

City of York Council have been quick to register their interest, citing the current and historic importance of the railways in York and suggesting the York Central brownfield site as the ideal location for the new headquarters.

Mr Sturdy said: “This is an exciting time for the UK rail industry, with significant investment and reforms being proposed by the Government. At the heart of this is the new organisation Great British Railways, which promises to simplify the current structure and make rail travel more straightforward for passengers. When announcing that the Government was looking for a location for the new headquarters of GBR, the Transport Secretary said the town or city would come to be known at the home of the railways. To me it is clear that he should look no further than York. Our city’s railway heritage is world famous, hosting the National Railway Museum for over 40 years. More than this though, we have unrivalled railway connections and a thriving modern day industry, employing over 5,500 people or 10 per cent of the national railway workforce.

"I would like to thank my North Yorkshire colleagues who have co-signed this letter and backed York’s bid. It is our shared view that location of GBR in York will bring much needed investment to both the city and the wider region, making a not insignificant contribution to the Government’s levelling up agenda. Indeed as we made clear in our letter, in York Central, the city has the added benefit of offering a conveniently located brownfield site that is ready to be developed, offering easy access to the adjacent railway network.

"I will continue to work with both the city council and colleagues in Parliament in working to persuade the Government of the strength of York’s case.”

There are around 5,000 rail jobs based in York already - representing about 10 per cent of the national rail industry.

Train operators based in the city include LNER, Northern and Grand Central. Network Rail employs 1,000 people in York and its training hub is based in the city.

City of York Council Leader, Keith Aspden has already said the council would be submitting a bid in the competition.

He said: “York is already at the heart of the rail industry in the North, with our existing rail links, rail sector jobs and highly skilled workforce, so it would make perfect sense for the headquarters of the Government’s flagship rail body to be based in the city.”

Cllr Aspden said the “exciting” York Central site would be an ideal location for the base.