STOCKTON should become the home of a new national body for the country's railways, according to the town's MP.

Matt Vickers, MP for Stockton South, said the town was the "perfect candidate" to house the headquarters of Great British Railways.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps announced a competition at the start of the month to find the location for the body, which will be responsible for running railways in Great Britain from 2023.

Read more: Darlington or York could be base for Government's Great British Railways

Leaders in both Darlington and York have already expressed interest in securing the headquarters.

Mr Vickers said: “Stockton is home to many of the world’s firsts. But arguably its most important and celebrated first is being home to the world’s first passenger railway.

“We cannot forget that it was in 1810 during a meeting in Stockton Town Hall held to celebrate the widening of the river Tees it was proposed to build a canal or railway to move coal from the fields in South West Durham to the renewed port in Stockton. This dinner led to the creation of the Stockton and Darlington Railway.

“In 1822, at St John’s Well in Stockton, the first rail was laid for the Stockton & Darlington Railway, right next to where the first ever rail passenger was booked at the world’s oldest ticket office in 1825.

“Stockton’s proud and rich railway history make it the perfect candidate to be Great British Railway’s new home and this town is ready to welcome the headquarters with open arms.

“It is no wonder that in Michael Portillo’s Great British Railway Journeys Stockton was mentioned as ‘the start of the world’s railways’.

“What better place for the headquarters of Great British Rail than the birthplace of the world’s railways?"

The government says the competition will recognise towns and cities with a rich railway history that are strongly linked to the network.

The new, state-owned GBR was announced in May in a plan to reform the railway system.

Keep up to date with all the latest news on our website, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

You can also follow our dedicated Teesside Facebook page for all the latest in the area by clicking here.

For all the top news updates from right across the region straight to your inbox, sign up to our newsletter here.

Have you got a story for us? Contact our newsdesk on or contact 01325 505054