Bring Railways home to Swindon - Great British Rail HQ Bid

The Government is looking for a new headquarters outside London for Great British Railways (GBR), which will become the single, accountable body responsible for running Britain’s railways.

Locations across the country with strong historical links to the railway are encouraged to make the case for why they should be the new home of GBR.

The new central headquarters will be the heart of the rail network and provide strategic direction for the running of GBR.

Swindon’s rich railway heritage and its ambition for Great British Railways (GBR) to be at the centre of a world-leading rail cluster that will herald a new golden era for Britain’s railways, much like Brunel did 180 years ago, are important elements of the bid, which has cross-party support.

All bids will be measured against six key criteria, including considering how GBR will align with levelling up objectives, its location, opportunities for GBR and public support.

Robert commented:

"Swindon is synonymous with the railways and it was great to have the opportunity last week to talk with Wendy Morton MP, the Rail Minister, about our town’s bid to host the new Great British Railways headquarters.

"I strongly believe that Swindon is the perfect location and alongside Justin Tomlinson MP, I will continue to do everything I can to support Swindon Borough Council in making our town’s case.

"If Swindon is successfully shortlisted, there will be a public vote – so please keep an eye on my social media channels and future weekly articles for more information."

Update - 27th May 2022

I am delighted to have secured a debate in Westminster this week, to promote Swindon's Bid to host Great British Railways Headquarters.

Furthermore, along with Justin Tomlinson MP, I am pleased to have secured the support of Michelle Donelan MP in Chippenham, James Gray MP in North Wiltshire and Danny Kruger MP in Devizes.

We have sent out a joint letter of support for Swindon's Bid to Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps MP.

Endorsements for the HQ Bid

Endorsements have been coming in from businesses and community groups and organisations in the Swindon area and beyond, including from the following:

  • MPs

    • Robert Buckland

    • Justin Tomlinson

    • Danny Kruger, Member of Parliament for Pewsey and Great Bedwyn

    • Michelle Donnelan, Member of Parliament for Chippenham

    • Andrew Murrison

  • Organisations

    • Arts Council

    • Business West

    • Costain Ltd

    • Cotswold District Council

    • Federation of Small Businesses (Somerset & Wiltshire)

    • Friends of the Railway Path

    • Great Western Hospitals NHS FT

    • ICast  (Innovation Centre for Applied Sustainable Technologies)

    • InSwindon

    • Mayor of Swindon

    • Mechanics Institute Trust

    • New College Swindon

    • Panattoni

    • Recovery Tree Charity

    • Royal Agricultural University

    • SetSquared

    • Swindon and Wiltshire Institute of Technology

    • Swindon Civic Voice

    • Swindon Chamber of Commerce

    • Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce Group

    • The Swindon Society

    • Voluntary Action Swindon

    • University of Bath

    • University Technical College Swindon

    • Western Gateway

    • Wiltshire Council

    • Wiltshire Police Service

    • Wiltshire and Swindon Local Enterprise Partnership

The support for the Bid is wide ranging, reflecting Swindon’s deep connections with the railways. A selection of quotations demonstrating the depth of Swindon’s railway connections is provided below:

  • 'The genesis of the NHS was the GWR Medical Fund and I have always been proud of that aspect of Swindon history in particular' - Kevin McNamara, Chief Executive, Great Western Hospitals NHS FT

  • 'Swindon has a long historic association with railway engineering and would make a wholly appropriate location for the new HQ' - Les Durrant, President, Swindon Chamber of Commerce

  • 'Swindon simply is the railways, and I can’t think of any other home for these new Head Quarters which would be more apt or a home where its residents would be prouder to host it' - Pam Webb, CEO, Voluntary Action Swindon

Resident support

A recent survey of Swindon residents shows the extent of public support, with 95% of respondents to a poll supporting the Bid.

A selection of quotes from respondees to the survey demonstrates the strength of feeling in support of the bid:

  • “Because we are The Railway Town! Without the railway, there would be no Swindon. But it's not all about history. We also have a vibrant young workforce and great transport connections to the rest of the UK making us an ideal place for the new HQ.”

  • “Swindon's magnificent railway heritage is the heart of the town and its central position next to the M4 and on the GWR main rail route make it an ideal home for the Great British Railways HQ.”

  • “Swindon would be a great headquarters for Great British Railway. We have the wonderful heritage of Isambard Kingdom Brunel , who left an incredible pedigree which is self-explanatory. We have the old railway works, still fine buildings, and visited by thousands of people each year. The Steam museum, adapted so quickly to give vaccinations recently.   This could be used to publicise plans for the above project. GO FOR IT.”

  • “Swindon has an amazing heritage in the railway industry, it is what made Swindon what it is today. It would be fitting to take this to the future as well."

  • “Swindon IS THE HOME of the railway!”

  • “It’s the home of the GWR. It was Brunel's choice. If it was good enough for him it is good enough! Plain and simple.”