WATCH: Harrogate & Knaresborough MP backs York’s bid for rail HQ.

Andrew Jones speaking in the Westminster Hall debate.

Local MP Andrew Jones backed calls in a special Westminster debate today backing York’s bid to host the headquarters of Great British Railways.

The debate was initiated by fellow North Yorkshire MP, Julian Sturdy.  Great British Railways will be a new state-owned body which will set timetables and prices, sell tickets in England and manage rail infrastructure.

Earlier this year, the Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps, announced that the headquarters of the new body would be based in a town or city with significant rail heritage.

York is already well-known as the home of the National Railway Museum and several large rail-related companies and many MPs spoke of the importance of York station as a hub for onward travel.  In his comments opening the debate, Mr Sturdy referred to the importance of the government’s levelling-up agenda and the city’s central location in the United Kingdom.

Speaking in support of his colleague, Harrogate and Knaresborough MP Andrew Jones said: “The reason why York is such a strong contender is the breadth of its skills in this area whether it is the rolling stock, engineering, planning or our digital future.  This is why York is ideally placed to host the headquarters of Great British Railways and why, if it comes to York, it will be able to hit the ground running.”

Replying in the debate, Transport Minister Chris Heaton-Harris thanked Mr Jones for his contribution to the debate and support for York. 

Mr Jones continued: “There are other bids to host the headquarters and so it isn’t surprising that the minister would not commit to York at this stage.  I am sure though, following this debate, that he recognises the strength of our claim and I am hopeful that we will be successful”.

Mr Jones’s support for York’s bid comes hot on the heels of significant upgrades to the Leeds – Harrogate – York line with investment which is set to increase the frequency of services between Harrogate and York.