A bid to bring the national headquarters for the new public body in charge of the country’s train services to Eastleigh has been submitted this week by the Borough Council.
Eastleigh is one of a number of towns and cities nationally to put themselves forward as the potential home for Great British Railways (GBR). The organisation will be responsible for running and planning Britain’s rail network. It will own the rail infrastructure, as well as setting fares and managing timetables.
As part of its ‘levelling up’ agenda, the government has stipulated that the new headquarters should be located outside London; Eastleigh town - in contrast to the wider Borough – falls below the national average on a number of important economic indicators, which makes it a prime candidate to receive levelling up support.
In making its case, the Borough Council is emphasising Eastleigh’s excellent communications as a major transport hub, with two motorways, an international airport and one the UK’s busiest ports within easy reach of the new headquarters. London is little more than an hour away by train.
The area’s ready supply of skilled labour, relatively affordable housing, desirable location and the Council’s commitment to regeneration, which would be enhanced by a successful bid, are all highlighted in the submission.
The Council bid also outlines how Eastleigh’s heritage is founded in the development of the railways, with train-building and operating a mainstay of the local economy for much of the 19th and 20th centuries; this is reflected in the continued presence of track and rail maintenance works, and the thriving communities of terraced railway cottages in the grid pattern of town centre streets.
Eastleigh Borough Council Leader, Councillor Keith House, said: “Eastleigh has a proud railway heritage that is still very evident in the town. It is also a superbly located business hub, offering the perfect location for the new headquarters of this important new body overseeing the country’s train services. Securing the headquarters of Great British Railways will provide an excellent and much-needed economic boost to the town - and to the wider region. I believe Ministers will be impressed by our bid and we look forward to hearing the result.”