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Ambitious bid to bring rail HQ to Worcestershire’s historic Shrub Hill Quarter

Railway station Published Friday, 18th March 2022

An exciting bid to bring the Great British Railways (GBR) headquarters to Worcestershire has been submitted.

The historic Shrub Hill Quarter in Worcester, which is undergoing a state-of-the-art, multi-million pound transformation, is the proposed location for the new, national rail hub.

GBR is a new Government body that will run the country’s rail network and an expression of interest was submitted by Worcestershire County Council with the support of Worcester City Council, Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership (WLEP), the MP for Worcester Robin Walker and the other five county MPs. 

Worcestershire County Council’s Leader, Councillor Simon Geraghty, said today: “Worcestershire is at the very heart of Great Britain, well-connected by both rail and the strategic highway network. We are determined to see our direct rail connectivity evolve and improve with GBR’s close engagement, taking maximum benefit of both our multi-million Worcestershire Parkway Station and Shrub Hill Station scheme.

“Worcestershire County Council would be delighted to host GBR’s headquarters here in the beautiful cathedral City of Worcester with its proud Great Western and Midland railways heritage, supporting our determined and essential county-wide Levelling Up agenda and our ongoing ambitions for continuously improving rail connectivity across Great Britain.” 

Worcester City Council Leader, Councillor Marc Bayliss, said: “Having won £40m of once-in-a-generation government investment in Worcester’s renaissance and levelling-up, we are ready to warmly welcome GBR’s HQ to our revitalised, well-connected Shrub Hill Quarter, set amidst its great railway history.”

Worcestershire’s bid has been backed by all 6 MPs in the county, Lord Faulkner of Worcester who is Chair of the North Cotswold Line Task Force, Worcestershire Rail User Group Association and Worcestershire Community Rail Partnership.

Robin Walker, MP for Worcester, said: “Worcester is a well-connected city at Great Britain's heart. We are home to one of Brunel’s great Victorian stations in Shrub Hill as well as one of the newest 21st century stations in the country at Worcestershire Parkway. Worcester is a great, growing place to locate GBR’s HQ which in turn will support our ambitious Levelling Up agenda.”

Worcestershire’s bid focusses heavily on the plans to completely transform the historic Shrub Hill Quarter which has the 1850-built railway station at its heart. The works at Shrub Hill will see the re-birth of one of the largest Midlands brownfield sites, bringing new homes and jobs.

The County Council owns historic, rail industry Grade-II buildings next to Shrub Hill Station and these would offer GBR modern, bespoke, attractive, sustainable and flexible choices for its HQ making it a special setting for the headquarters.

The bid also points to the fact that the county is rail-connected to London, the Oxford-Cambridge Arc, Birmingham, the South West, Wales and the East Midlands, with GB-wide Cross Country services capable of calling at £22million plus Worcestershire Parkway Station which opened in 2020.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced in October 2021 that a competition would take place to find a location for the GBR headquarters outside of London. The competition is seeking to recognise places with a rich railway heritage, strong links to the national network and public support for the selected location, creating a great opportunity to promote communities as the proud home for the start of a new era in Britain’s railways.

The HQ will be home primarily to corporate functions, a number of network-wide capabilities, and meeting and collaboration spaces that enable people from across the regions and industry to come together.

All EOIs had to be submitted by Wednesday, 16 March. The shortlisted entries will then be announced in May 2022 and Ministerial visits will take place to the shortlisted areas in the same month. The public will then be asked to vote for the winner. The overall winner will be revealed in the summer.

For a full list of the towns and cities that have submitted a bid, go to the Great British Railways News page.