Crewe showcased just why it feels it is the perfect place to be home to the new Great British Railways headquarters on a visit by Wendy Morton MP
Rail minister Wendy Morton has had a guided tour of Crewe’s railway industry as part of the town’s bid to be named the home of Great British Railways. The minister for railways was shown around some of the key sites when it comes to the town’s longstanding connections with the rail industry.
Amongst the sites she visited were the Avanti Rail Academy, Locomotive Services and the location for the Crewe Hub Station where she had the chance to take part in a virtual reality experience to see what the finished project would look like. Crewe is the only town on a shortlist of six places across the country, competing against the five cities of Derby, York, Newcastle, Doncaster and Birmingham.
The town is widely seen as one of the favourites alongside Derby and York due to its unrivalled railway heritage. A total of 40 towns and cities submitted bids for the prestigious honour, involving addressing six key points for why they should be chosen: alignment to levelling up principles; connected and easy to get to; opportunities for GBR; value for money; railway heritage and links to the network; and public support.
Crewe’s bid explained that the town was still ‘home to a thriving rail industry’ and its ‘central and strategic position’ as well as its ‘unrivalled connectivity’ made it the perfect location. A survey run by Cheshire Live found an overwhelming 97 per cent of people in the town supported the bid, joining the likes of record producer Pete Waterman, who is also backing the campaign.
A Cheshire East Council spokesperson said the ministerial visit was a chance to show why Crewe was at the heart of rail and that it has the credentials to become home to the Great British Railways headquarters – the new rail operator from 2023. The creation of the new organisation, which will take control of the country’s railways, was announced by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps last year.
Cheshire East Council leader Sam Corcoran welcomed the opportunity to showcase the town during the visit on Friday July 15, saying: “This was our opportunity to show everything that Crewe has to offer and I hope the minister now sees how rail is right at the heart of Crewe and that Crewe is at the heart of the railways. Our long history in rail, dating back 185 years means to this day we have the expertise, skills and infrastructure needed to make GBR a success.
“The likes of the Avanti Rail Academy and Locomotive Services show that while we are proud of this history, our connection to rail today is as strong as ever.”
Dr Kieran Mullan, MP for Crewe and Nantwich, welcomed the visit, saying: “Today we set out our case for bringing GBR to Crewe. There’s few places in the country as closely linked to the railways as this one and I’m sure all of our passion for it shone through today.
“Bringing GBR to Crewe is key for the town’s levelling up and while it would have huge benefits for the town, our strong connectivity would mean the benefits could flow out around the wider region and to the country as a whole.”
Cheshire East deputy leader councillor Craig Browne said: “I’d like to thank all of our partners who supported this visit. One of the things we have to offer to Great British Railways is the collaboration we have across the town when it comes to rail. It’s only with them we can show everything Crewe has to offer.
“Rail is right at the heart of Crewe and bringing Great British Railways to the town would be a fitting next chapter in our rail story.”
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “This is fantastic news for Crewe. Our world-leading railways have well-served this country for 200 years and this is a huge step in our reforms. As one of the first railway towns in the world and proudly sitting on the HS2 route, Crewe has all the potential to help shape our network for the next 200 years and level up the lives of its residents and communities.
“Great British Railways will create a truly sustainable, modern and fair railway network for passengers and freight customers. I’m calling on people across the country to play a key part in this once-in-a-generation reform and vote for the new home of our railways.”
The final decision on which place will be the home of the headquarters will be made by the Secretary of State later this year. One factor that will be considered as part of the decision is a public vote, which is open now and people are being urged to vote for Crewe by going to www.gbrtt.co.uk/vote.
The public vote runs until August 15 2022, with the final decision set to be made later this year.
- 13:25, 16 JUL 2022