Salford’s Great British Railways bid

Important update: Salford City Council’s bid to become the home of the Great British railway has not been shortlisted but we’d like to thank everyone who supported our campaign

What did Salford’s bid propose?

Our chosen site for the GBR headquarters was Embankment 100 – a new modern, sustainable office building in the city centre that is built on the site of the former Manchester Exchange station.

The bid was submitted as an expression of interest via the Greater Manchester Combined Authority to the Great British Railways Transition Team. Bolton Council and Rochdale Borough Council have also submitted separate bids to bring the HQ to Greater Manchester.

It followed the launch of the competition by the government in February 2022 for towns and cities outside of London to bid to host the new HQ.

How did the competition work?

The competition sought bids from towns and cities that have a rich railway history and strong links to the rail network.

Bids were asked to make their case against the below criteria:

  • The area is aligned to the government’s levelling up objectives
  • The area has good transport connections and is easy to travel to
  • The area provides opportunities for Great British Railways
  • The area has railway heritage and links to the UK’s rail network
  • The area offers value for money
  • The area has local public support

A total of 42 expressions of interest were received by the Department of Transport’s Great British Railways Transition Team. These were assessed and a shortlist was announced in July 2022.

Salford’s rich railway history - Our past

  • Our suggested location, Embankment 100, is at the centre of the railway network in Greater Manchester and was built on the site of the former Manchester Exchange station which at one time, had Europe’s longest platforms at 682m - accommodating three trains at once.
  • Our city was the home of celebrated cartographer, George Bradshaw, whose famous railway maps and timetables, Bradshaw’s Guide, made famous in Michael Portillo’s Great British Railway Journeys series, was first published here in our city in 1839. Mr Bradshaw was born and grew up in the Pendleton area of the city.
  • We were also the location of one of history’s greatest railway feats as George Stephenson, the Father of Railways, ran the legendary locomotive ‘Rocket’ through Salford during the historic Rainhill Trials in 1829 to decide which train would run on the Liverpool-Manchester Railway – the first inter-city railway in the world. It was also during the official opening of this railway in 1830 that Salford also had the first railway accident victim as William Huskisson MP, was knocked down by Rocket and later died at Eccles Vicarage. His death, reported around the world, led to millions becoming aware of the arrival of steam engines.
  • Stephenson also constructed the Grade I-listed River Irwell Railway Bridge on this railway line that was central to the continuation of the line from Liverpool into Manchester and significantly advanced railway operations across the country.
  • Our main city centre station, Salford Central, has been in use since 1838 as the main terminus for the historic Manchester and Bolton Railway line which is now part of the Manchester to Preston line – one of the busiest in the North West.
  • The very first horse-drawn bus service took place in Salford – from Pendleton to Manchester in 1824. The first ever steamboat was built in Worsley and our city arguably sparked the industrial revolution with the first major canal and underground colliery built in Worsley in 1760.
  • We are incredibly proud of our rail history and only back in 2015, a locally led project from the Hamilton Davies Trust transformed Irlam Station back to how it looked in 1894, complete with a beautiful station house, café bistro and meeting space.

Our present

  • Salford is a vastly growing digital city with a continuous focus on innovation and connectivity that is spearheaded by the transformative regeneration of our waterways at Salford Quays – a project 30 years in the making that is now the home of MediaCityUK and a growing neighbourhood for its thousands of residents.
  • Our vision for the future of our city is led by The Salford Way, an approach guided on eight principles that maps out a future of economic transformation to build a more inclusive and green local economy and a fairer city where everyone can reach their full potential.
  • The Civil Service already has an established presence in Salford and Greater Manchester. We have welcomed the Home Office to the Soapworks scheme in Salford Quays, HMRC are moving into a new site at New Bailey for their staff and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy are bringing 420 jobs to Salford having taken space at Trinity Bridge House in the city centre.
  • We are the fastest growing borough of Greater Manchester having secured 15,000 additional jobs over the last five years and have also registered 2,000 new businesses in the same timeframe. This growth has been spatially concentrated in the city centre, MediaCityUK and Salford Quays but has also been driven by sector diversity and growing specialisation. The office economy is critical for our city, particularly in the business, professional and financial services sector. This can be linked to new office floor space at locations such as Greengate.
  • Our transport links continue to be strong, as by bordering central Manchester, we are set to fully reap the benefits of the region’s plans for a fully integrated London-style transport network and be in touching distance of HS2 when it arrives in Manchester.
  • We are also home to Port Salford, which once complete, will be the UK’s first tri-modal inland waterway port to be served by rail, road and ship. This ground-breaking development will support 16 trains a day and can support 775m-long trains from Europe. The project will be of huge significance to the North West’s future economy and is creating hundreds of new jobs.

Levelling Up Salford

  • Whilst our city has a bright future and we have a great track record of delivering for our residents, we would also be a perfect example of the levelling up that the government is aiming to deliver for communities around the country.
  • Salford is the eighteenth most deprived local authority in the country and has several communities just two miles away from the city centre who are in the top 1% most deprived nationally.
  • Our unemployment rate is at 6.6% and claims for Universal Credit (31,645) are still considerably higher than pre-pandemic levels.
  • Nine per cent of Salford residents have no qualifications with over 140,000 only qualified to Level 1 or below and we are rapidly seeking to address this through a refreshed Skills and Work programme that will provide more education and skills opportunities for the people of Salford.

Our supporters

Salford City Council worked with organisations and partners across the city on the bid which was submitted to the Great British Railways Transition Team in March 2022.

The following supporters backed #Salford4GBR:

  • Apadmi
  • Barbara Keeley, MP for Worsley and Eccles South
  • CitySuites ApartHotel
  • Creamline Dairies Ltd
  • Embankment Manchester
  • Graham Stringer, MP for Blackley and Broughton
  • Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce
  • Hamilton Davies Trust
  • HOST – Home of Skills and Technology
  • Lowry Theatre
  • MediaCityUK
  • Mettler-Toledo Safeline
  • Northern Care Alliance NHS Foundation Trust
  • Rebecca Long-Bailey, MP for Salford and Eccles
  • Salford City FC
  • Salford Community Leisure
  • Salford CVS
  • Salford Foundation
  • Seven Bro7hers Brewery
  • TalkTalk Group
  • University of Salford

Thank you to everyone who supported our bid and our #Salford4GBR campaign.

This page was last updated on 5 July 2022

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