Councillors welcome the idea of their town, rich in railway history, to become home for the headquarters of a new public body in charge of the UK’s train services.

Town and district councillors believe Didcot is a great location for the Great British Railways (GBR) headquarters.

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

South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils will be entering a bid for this 'one in a generation' opportunity.

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Didcot councillor, David Rouane, and leader of South Oxford District Council, 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.”

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

Mocky Khan, the town's mayor fully supports this bid. 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 Emily Smith, leader of Vale of White Horse District Council, said, “Didcot would be an excellent choice for the new Great British Railways national headquarters and the town has much to offer with its links to Brunel and the country’s railway history.

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.


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