Swindon to push for Great British Railways headquarters

By Jessica Durston - 8 October 2021

CommunityHeritage
  • Steam Train at Swindon Station

    Steam Train at Swindon Station

Swindon is going full steam ahead in a bid to become the new home for the Great British Railways.

Leader of the Council, Cllr David Renard, will be writing to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps to promote the town and signal why it deserves to be top of the list.

Great British Railways (GBR) is set to become the single, accountable body responsible for running Britain’s railways and the Government recently announced a competition to find the location for its first headquarters.

A Government spokesperson said: “The competition will recognise towns and cities with a rich railway history that are strongly linked to the network ensuring the first headquarters will take pride of place at the heart of a new era of Britain’s railways”.

Swindon Borough Council believe this already puts Swindon in a leading position, thanks to its links with Isambard Kingdom Brunel and the Great Western Railway including the iconic Railway Village and Railway Works.

The new headquarters will help to capitalise on that heritage and build on the recent work to refurbish the Health Hydro, and bringing Brunel’s historic former Carriage Works back into use to create a knowledge economy cluster for the town.

Cllr Renard says he is keen to take up the opportunity to expand Swindon’s promising future and build on its longstanding association with the railway.

He added: “Swindon’s railway heritage is second to none. The town was home to the largest railway works complex in Europe, employing 14,000 at its peak. 

“Through the Swindon Heritage Action Zone, the town’s railway heritage area is currently being rejuvenated to deliver a railway heritage area with a national profile.

“GBR would be in good company as well with Swindon already home to several engineering firms, including the HQ for the Western Route of Network Rail.

“This opportunity would provide a win-win for the town and GBR. For Swindon, hosting the GBR headquarters would accelerate the renewal of our Town Centre. For Great British Railways, they would have access to one of the most productive workforces in the country.

“Brunel was one of the greatest engineers we have ever seen and he recognised the potential of Swindon when choosing it to be the home of the Great Western Railway. I’ll be doing all I can to ask Mr Shapps and the Government to show the same foresight in choosing our fantastic town to be the home of the railway once again.”

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