CITY leaders in York will formally submit their bid for the city to become the national headquarters of Britain’s railways in the coming days.

York faces stiff competition from at least 15 other towns and cities, including Derby, Darlington and Nottingham, who also want to tempt Great British Railways (GBR) to set up shop in their area.

GBR will be the single, accountable public body responsible for running Britain’s railways.

A publicity campaign will ramp up in the coming months, asking people across the whole country who have an affinity for rail, York, or both, to back the city in a public  vote.

Evidence for the bid is being compiled with North Yorkshire County Council, York and North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership, business leaders and the railway sector, although the council is keeping tight-lipped about the finer points so as not to give too much away to the competition.

But a City of York Council report reveals that its ‘expression of interest’ will focus on York being ready now for the new HQ, its existing young and skilled rail workforce and the city’s future as a “natural centre for a decarbonised national transport infrastructure”. 

York Central provides “a unique opportunity to create a fitting new HQ”, according to the report, with Hudson Quarter, George Stephenson House and West Offices all touted as other potential locations for office space that are all “available immediately”.

The city’s railway heritage and good connectivity with the wider region will also be emphasised in the bid.

The announcement that the new government walking and cycling body, Active Travel England, is to be based in York also presents “an opportunity to create a national decarbonised transport infrastructure campus, putting York at the heart of sustainable travel".

The Government revealed earlier this month that entrants will be judged against six criteria, which are: alignment to Levelling Up objectives; connected and easy to get to; opportunities for Great British Railways; railway heritage and links to the network; value for money and public support.

The city’s two MPs have already backed the bid, as has train operator LNER and the National Railway Museum.

Entries must be submitted by Wednesday, March 16. 

A public vote will take place in May, but it will not be binding. A shortlist will be announced in the same month, with a ministerial visit to follow.

The headquarters’ location will be announced in the Summer.

Councillor Keith Aspden, leader of City of York Council, said: “York is the natural home for Great British Railways, standing at the heart of the UK’s rail network and with a rail history stretching back centuries. We believe that the public and the Government will see that our rich rail heritage, skilled population and future development opportunities, such as York Central, make York the ideal home for Great British Railways."

“Even before the competition was announced, we have been working with our partners to put York in the best possible position to succeed, and over the coming weeks and months, we will undertake further work to give York’s bid real momentum.”

Known contenders competing against York:








Milton Keynes