A town rich in railway history could become the home for the new headquarters of a new public body in charge of the UK’s train services.

South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils will be entering a bid for Didcot, to become the home of the new Great British Railways (GBR) headquarters.

If Didcot is shortlisted, residents will get the chance to vote during a consultation in May and the winner will be announced this summer.

Based outside London, GBR will be responsible for ticket prices, setting timetables and rail infrastructure.

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Mocky Khan, Didcot's mayor, fully supports the district’s council bid for the town.

He said: “The railways have had a major influence and impact on the development of Didcot. We have the wonderful, family friendly and living museum of Didcot Railway Centre, the history and have people moving in due to the train links, therefore Didcot is an ideal location to be the new HQ of Great British Railways.

“This will further strengthen our railway heritage and further reinforce why Didcot is a great place to live. I hope we get shortlisted and Didcot wins.”

Since the erection of a covered station in 1844 as part Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s Great Western Railway, Didcot has served as a vital junction for trade and tourists between Oxford, London and the west country.

Didcot is famous for its Railway Centre where the Great Western Society preserve and restore Great Western Railway’s heritage.

The centre is also a sought-after location with Hollywood, with Sherlock Holmes and Anna Karenina being filmed there.

There are several potential sites that could accommodate the headquarters, including Didcot Gateway, a site which is set to be regenerated and is directly opposite Didcot Parkway railway station.

Councillor David Rouane, leader of SODC, said: “It could be argued that the railway is the heart and soul of Didcot. We think the town is an ideal location for the new public body to be situated and the sustainable public transport links we have in our garden town plans will be reflected in our bid.

“It will show our commitment to build on our railway heritage as well as demonstrate our future plans to help regenerate the town and create more jobs for residents living in and around the garden town.”

A wide range of partners are supporting the district councils to submit an Expression of Interest as the first step of the selection process, including David Johnston MP, OxLEP and other business and community partners.

If Didcot is shortlisted, residents will get the chance to vote during a consultation in May and the winner will be announced this summer.


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