The town of Nuneaton is among those towns and cities bidding to be the new home of Great British Railways (GBR).
Great British Railways is a public organisation announced in 2021 that will absorb Network Rail, bringing together track and train with the aim of delivering a more customer-focused railway, coming into existence in 2023.
It is due to have its headquarters outside London and Nuneaton is one of 42 towns and cities to have submitted a bid and will hope to make a shortlist that will be announced in May 2022. The organisation’s remit will include owning rail infrastructure, receiving fare revenue, running and planning the network and setting most fares and timetables.
Nuneaton is drawing on its many strengths as part of its bid as the largest town in Warwickshire, with one of the largest mainline stations in the Midlands outside of Birmingham New Street. It is also well located for road and air, with a short drive to East Midlands and Birmingham International Airports, and it is located within the logistics ‘golden triangle’ with unrivalled access to the motorway network.
Extensive use of the early railways was made to drive the coal industry in and around Nuneaton. Today, Nuneaton and Warwickshire is a major force in net zero carbon technologies, including rail and light rail technologies.
The relocation of this major HQ facility would provide Nuneaton with a transformational opportunity to regenerate and level up the town. In return, this growing Midlands town will provide Great British Railways with the perfect launching point to revolutionise and repurpose the country’s national railways, located at a central point on the rail network, to access the rail industry operating and design and manufacture eco-system across the Midlands and wider UK.
The HQ would also form a key part of the Transforming Nuneaton Programme, which has the vision to create a vibrant, attractive and prosperous town centre that offers a range of opportunities for everyone.
Councillor Wallace Redford, Portfolio Holder for Transport & Planning at Warwickshire County Council said: “I am fully supportive of this exciting bid with our Partners in Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council.
“Warwickshire boasts an enviable track record of rail innovation as home to the first battery train running on the UK network with Vivarail and the first UK mainline demonstrator for hydrogen fuel, the Hydroflex which was tested and developed at Long Marston. With these accomplishments in mind, I would be delighted to see Nuneaton take on mantle as headquarters of Great British Railways.”
Brent Davis, Chief Executive of Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council, said: “We are absolutely committed to bringing the best opportunities we can to our borough, and playing our part in a dynamic and business-focused West Midlands.
“Nuneaton already has a comprehensive programme of transformation underway to help create a vibrant town centre. We have first class links here with the whole of the UK by both road and rail.
“We are proud to bid for this extraordinary opportunity, and believe with our partners in the public and private sector we can build a powerful case for this headquarters to be here in our borough, right at the heart of the country.”
Supporting the bid for Nuneaton rail business leader Colin Flack OBE from Motorail UK Limited, said: “It is my firm belief that for Great British Railways to succeed, it needs to mindful of its pedigree without being constrained in any way by its past.
“The opportunity to look to the future from a location that is not in any way impinged by its history is one that is not to be dismissed lightly. Nuneaton is such a location. Warwickshire is a great County with a dynamic and forward-looking approach to business, innovation and skills and all of these qualities are exemplified in the town of Nuneaton.
“I feel that Nuneaton is uniquely placed to bring a wide range of supply chain excellence to GBR from a location that is forward-looking, resting in a County with an enviable track record in its support to business and collectively a place to build a truly Great British Railway from.”
Residents can follow the campaign on social media using the #NuneatonGBRPlus hashtag.
More information about the Nuneaton Bid can be found on the website: https://www.warwickshire.gov.uk/NuneatonGBRHQPlus