Could Bolton be the home of the new Great British Railways headquarters?

The winning location will become the base for numerous high-skilled jobs supporting the railway industry.

Calls have been made to make Horwich the home of the government’s Great British Railways (GBR).

The GBR is being created as part of a series of reforms by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, and aims to be ‘a single guiding mind that ends the fragmentation of the rail industry’.

It forms part of the government’s Levelling Up White Paper and plans to decentralise a number of government organisations away from London.

The winning location will become the base for numerous high-skilled jobs supporting the railway industry.

Horwich and Blackrod First Independents town councillor Steven Chadwick has written to Bolton MP Chris Green and council bosses urging them to make Horwich Loco Works the subject of a bid.

He said: “This headquarters will not be in London and will be in a town with a rich railway history.

“As the town which Sir Nigel Gresley learnt his trade at Horwich Loco Works, as did Sir AV Roe of AVRO fame, Horwich has as rich railway history of any town in Great Britain.

“It was one of the major centres for locomotive building in this country from the arrival of the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway, through LNWR and LMS, British Railways and British Rail.

“The site of the former Horwich Loco Works is currently being redeveloped, what better legacy and chance to level up the area than by the government awarding the new home of Great British Railways to Horwich?

“I would therefore urge you to work with Bolton Council as the district council to formulate a credible bid and speak with Grant Shapps as Transport Minister, to raise the possibility of Horwich being the new home of Great British Railways and also the Levelling Up Minister about supporting a bid.

“One added factor is a great location in the North West, on the Manchester to Preston railway line, with great motorway links, and the adjacent Middlebrook retail and leisure park, offering facilities few can rival.”

Other towns with railway links likely to make a bid to house the new headquarters include Grantham, Didcot, Perth and Swindon.

Launching the competition earlier this month, Grant Shapps said: “Our railways have kept this country moving for almost 200 years.

“It’s time to kick-start a new age that will shape our network for the next 200.

“I’m calling on people across the country to make the case for why the true home of the railways is on your doorstep.”

The best applications will be short-listed in May by the GBR transition team after which a public vote will be held to help determine the winning location.