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A Conservative MP has urged ministers to “choo-choo-choose” his constituency to host the headquarters of Great British Railways (GBR).
Matt Vickers insisted Teesside is “on the up” and pressed the case for Stockton South as it prepares to mark the 200th anniversary of a major rail milestone.
The Stockton and Darlington Railway, the world’s first public passenger service, built by George Stephenson, was inaugurated in 1825.
Conservative MP Matt Vickers channels his inner Ralph Wiggum as he asks ministers to "choo choo choose" Stockton as the home for the HQ of Great British Railways… pic.twitter.com/5MYezHWmKY
— Richard Wheeler (@richard_kaputt) June 7, 2022
Mr Vickers asked in the House of Commons: “Will the Department for Transport bring the railway home to where it all began and choo-choo-choose Stockton as the home for Great British Rail?”
The plea had echoes of Ralph Wiggum’s Valentine’s Day experiences in The Simpsons episode called I Love Lisa.
This saw Lisa Simpson notice a tearful Ralph receiving no cards and, out of sympathy, sending him one with a train on the front and the caption: “I choo-choo-choose you.”
Ultimately, Ralph’s pursuit of romance with Lisa failed and his heart was broken – a fate Mr Vickers will be hoping to avoid when the result of the GBR contest is announced.
GBR will be a new public sector body to oversee Britain’s railways and the Government says it will “simplify” the rail network and improve services for passengers.
It will absorb the state-owned infrastructure management company Network Rail and take on many functions from the Department for Transport.
Transport minister Trudy Harrison, in reply to Mr Vickers, said: “The Great British Railways transition team has analysed the 42 submissions, we’ve received them from towns and cities across Great Britain against a set of six criteria.”
Ms Harrison said a shortlist of locations will be announced “soon” and there will be an “online consultative vote”.
She added: “The Secretary of State will then make a final decision considering all the elements of the process later this year.”