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All aboard – city stakeholders back Peterborough’s bid to be HQ for Great British Railways

Posted: 16/03/2022

Backed by city stakeholders, Peterborough has today (16 March 2022) thrown its conductor’s hat into the ring for a chance to be selected as the base new for the Great British Railway’s headquarters.

The city has put its Station Quarter forward as the location for the newly formed Great British Railways organisation which will focus on delivering sweeping reforms to national rail services to create a truly passenger-focused railway.

Organised and prepared by Opportunity Peterborough, the city’s economic development company, major city stakeholders have supplied vital information and backed the final bid, including:

  • Paul Bristow MP and Shailesh Vara MP
  • Peterborough City Council
  • Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority
  • Anglia Ruskin University Peterborough
  • Opportunity Peterborough (city’s economic development company)
  • Visit Peterborough
  • Peterborough Investment Partnership
  • Peterborough Positive (new Business Improvement District organisation)
  • PECT (Peterborough Environment City Trust)
  • Peterborough Investment Partnership
  • Railworld Wildlife Haven
  • Peterborough Civic Society

LNER’s Peterborough Station team has also supplied information for the bid.

The bid boasts of Peterborough’s growing importance as a modern-day logistics hub and its robust economy, while emphasising how the railways have been pivotal to the city’s rapid growth.

After the Peterborough East train station opened in 1850 the population tripled from 8,000 to 30,000 by 1900. With the addition of a second station, the railways didn’t just bring visitors to the city, they brought people from all over the world looking for work, and underpinned significant industrial growth.

The 1901 census also shows that around the turn of the 20th century around 1 in 4 of the male workforce worked in the railways. While that figure may not be the same today, Peterborough’s station services around 5 million passengers annually and is often what people unfamiliar with the city know it for – as well as its cathedral and Passport Office.

The bid emphasises the city’s railway heritage at sites like Nene Valley Rail, Railworld, Peterborough Museum, and Fletton Quays, and the opportunities for GBR HQ to ensure the railways continue to shape the city’s future.

Tom Hennessy, chief executive of Opportunity Peterborough, which put the bid together, said, “Peterborough’s Station Quarter would be a fantastic site for the GBR HQ. They’d have a central role in placemaking and levelling up the city. The move would create a significant number of high value jobs, raising aspirations among residents, and adding even more weight to Peterborough’s investment offer.

“A base in Peterborough puts them close to industry bodies like GB Rail Freight, The Road Haulage Association, The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport, and The Centre for Sustainable Road Freight, as well as having fantastic routes into related sectors like logistics, manufacturing and technology specialists through Opportunity Peterborough, the Smart Manufacturing Alliance and the Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority.”

“It’s a fantastic opportunity for Great British Railways to set up in a central, affordable location that’s easy to get to, and expand the impact of our vital railways.”

David Turnock, Chairman of Peterborough Civic Society said, “You can see our heritage in our architecture, and experience it at Nene Valley Rail, Railworld, and our Museum. GBR HQ coming to Peterborough would help us make even more of these fantastic heritage assets. The railway has played a definitive role in Peterborough’s growth, and as we’re set to remain one of the fastest growing cities in the country, it would seem fitting for GBR HQ to come to Peterborough at this time.”

The shortlist is expected to be announced in May 2022.

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