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Great British Railways: Bishop's Stortford MP Julie Marson reveals town is on short list for new body's HQ



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Bishop’s Stortford has made the short list to become the headquarters of the new Great British Railways.

News that the town made the cut in a nationwide competition was revealed in the House of Commons on Thursday (May 19) by its Conservative MP Julie Marson. Some 42 locations had submitted bids in March to host the HQ.

She was taking part in a debate “on what the Government are doing to build a world-class transport network".

Julie Marson and Transport Secretary Grant Shapps (56802793)
Julie Marson and Transport Secretary Grant Shapps (56802793)

A base outside of London for new state-owned Great British Railways (GBR) is part of Transport Secretary Grant Shapps' “once-in-a-generation reform” of the country’s railway services.

GBR, which replaces Network Rail in 2023, will be a single, accountable body that integrates the railways, owns the infrastructure, collects fare revenue, runs and plans the network and sets most fares and timetables. It will contract private partners to operate most trains to the timetables and fares it specifies.

Mrs Marson told Commons colleagues she wanted to highlight the “brilliant bid” for Bishop’s Stortford which made the short list.

Bishop's Stortford Goods Yard: Illustrative architect’s sketch of the development (56802810)
Bishop's Stortford Goods Yard: Illustrative architect’s sketch of the development (56802810)

She said: “I pay tribute to all those involved in putting this brilliant bid together as part of the Shaping Stortford group: East Herts Council, Hertfordshire County Council, Bishop’s Stortford Town Council, Hertfordshire’s LEP (Local Enterprise Partnership), Solum, Bishop’s Stortford BID [Business Improvement District] and all the local residents who have engaged so constructively and proactively.”

She highlighted the Goods Yard development next to the town’s railway station where Solum – a partnership between Network Rail and construction company Kier – is developing a new gateway for the town including shops, offices, two multi-storey car parks, a hotel and 740 new homes.

Earlier this year it was revealed Network Rail had decided to retain railways sidings previously included in the scheme.

Mrs Marson said: “The proposed Goods Yard site dates from 1842, and it is very fitting to have the possibility of returning rail to this historic site, which is itself a key town centre regeneration project.

MP Julie Marson (56802776)
MP Julie Marson (56802776)

“Our area has its own pockets of deprivation, and the jobs this would deliver would be a huge boost for our community and, overall, a great addition to our expanding but beautiful market town, which is so brilliantly located as the gateway to the Eastern region, at the heart of the Cambridge-London-Stansted innovation corridor, and to Stansted Airport itself, and linked by road and rail to London.”

The next steps in the HQ selection process are ministerial visits and a public vote this month with a final decision expected in the summer.

Mrs Marson used her speech to invite transport minister Andrew Stephenson to tour the constituency and highlighted the county council’s plans for HERT (Hertfordshire Essex Rapid Transit), the £2.5bn scheme for a sustainable passenger transport network.

Hertfordshire Essex Rapid Transit (56802874)
Hertfordshire Essex Rapid Transit (56802874)


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