Full steam ahead for Carnforth’s Great British Railways bid

A bid has been officially submitted for Carnforth to become the home of a new public body that will be in charge of the country’s railways.

By Gayle Rouncivell
Friday, 18th March 2022, 2:36 pm

Lancaster City Council has submitted its expression of interest in the town becoming the location for the first headquarters of Great British Railways.

The bid focuses on Carnforth’s rich rail heritage and the benefits it would reap through the new HQ.

The town’s connections with the railway, in particular the Victorian steam revolution, are rich and deep, with it still affectionately referred to as ‘Steamtown’.

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Coun Caroline Jackson, leader of Lancaster City Council.

Carnforth’s importance came from its position at the crossroads of the north-south mainline and the east-west lines linking the Furness peninsula with West Yorkshire and beyond. It became not only a hub for the railways, but also for the Post Office and the site of an iron and steel works.

This indelible link with the railways was immortalised in David Lean’s 1956 film Brief Encounter, with one of the most romantic and poignant love scenes in cinema history shot at Carnforth.

The bid also looks at the wider economic benefits the new HQ would bring to Carnforth and how it would be the perfect ‘levelling up’ project.

Coun Caroline Jackson, leader of Lancaster City Council, said: “I believe we have put together a compelling case as to why Carnforth should become the first headquarters for Great British Railways.

"Carnforth’s ‘crossroads’ status - spanning the borders of Lancashire and Cumbria, with connectivity to the north, south, east and west - provides the perfect opportunity for a levelling-up initiative that will directly and demonstrably benefit our whole community.

“The town’s strong existing link to the railways via its heritage would be further enhanced by national recognition. Furthermore, it is proposed that some relatively minor and inexpensive improvements to Carnforth Station’s connectivity would enable additional investment around rail infrastructure and skills, as well as wider industry opportunities."

An announcement on which areas have been shortlisted for the new Great British Railways HQ is expected to be made in May.

A non-binding public vote will then take place before a final decision is made this summer.