IT seems a no-brainer. They might as well call the competition off. Darlington is surely the obvious choice to be the home of Great British Railways.

GBR is going to be the publicly accountable body that is responsible for running our railways, and this week Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has launched a competition among places wanting to host it.

“The competition will recognise towns and cities with a rich railway history that are strongly linked to the network ensuring the first headquarters will take pride of place at the heart of a new era for Britain’s railways,” says the Government.

Darlington, on the East Coast Main Line, is strongly linked to the network and no other town in Britain has a history that is more rich given that this is the railway’s birthplace. Indeed, a shrewd operator like Mr Shapps will see the synergy of bringing the new organisation that is in charge of the future of the railways to the place that in 2025 will be celebrating the 200th anniversary of their beginning.

Perhaps, having been headquartered in Darlington for the last 150 years, we are a little biased, and there are undoubtedly many other railway towns with strong cases – York being an obvious one.

But, while presuming Darlington will win, let’s just say how good it is that the Government is moving more civil servants out of London and how that change of focus could be beneficial. If, for example, construction of HS2 had started at Edinburgh or Newcastle and moved southwards and westwards, rather than starting in London and coming northwards, our infrastructure would already look very different and levelling up would really be on track.