WE desperately need some light political news as we watch the unedifying death by a thousand resignations of Boris Johnson’s government, and the battle of the railway towns could provide an entertaining interlude.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps today formally asks for bids from places “with a great railway history” to become the headquarters of the new GB Rail body, which is taking control of tickets and timetables.

We wholly support the concept of civil servants being based away from London so they live in the real world, and we believe all of our towns bidding – Darlington, Stockton and York – have a good story to tell.

Darlington is already benefitting from more than 1,000 Treasury-related jobs being moved to its new campus, so perhaps, to be fair, the Government should spread its largesse elsewhere. However, all the attributes that attracted the Treasury to the town – notability its great connectivity on the railway – will surely prove irresistible to GB Rail as well.

Especially as no place in the country has a greater railway history than Darlington, the birthplace of the railways.

With scores of places – Southampton, Crewe, Doncaster, Eastleigh – also bidding, the competition could be a little light relief from the major issues facing the Government.

And the good thing about it is that one place is going to win something worthwhile – 500 jobs – unlike previous battles between railway towns, no one is going to have its hands painfully prised off something it had looked after for more than 150 years.