BRADFORD is being urged to become the 'capital city for railways' by bidding to host the headquarters of a restructured rail organisation.

As part of sweeping reforms announced by the Department of Transport in May, control of trains and track will be brought under a new public sector body named Great British Railways (GBR).

The organisation, which would absorb Network Rail, would own and manage rail infrastructure, issue contracts to private firms to run trains, set most fares and timetables, and sell tickets.

Earlier this week, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced that a competition will be run to identify the headquarters for GBR.

As part of major reforms designed to ensure decisions about the railway are brought closer to the passengers and communities they serve, GBR will require a new national headquarters alongside regional headquarters.

The Government is welcoming expressions of interest with a commitment that the national headquarters will be based outside of London – ensuring skilled jobs, investment and economic benefits are focused beyond the capital.

"The Government is looking at places for being the home of the new national body for the country's railways," said Cllr Jeanette Sunderland (Lib Dem, Idle and Thackley), leader of the Liberal Democrat and Independent group.

"I think Bradford should put a bid in and become the capital city of railways.

"Bradford has historically has underperformed with transport links and it's unacceptable that the Government keeps allowing this to happen.

"This would Bradford at the heart of railways and give a boost to disenfranchised people.

"It would also bring a lot of jobs and access to jobs to the region."

Leader of Bradford Council, Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe (Lab, Windhill and Wrose),said: “We are already talking to Government about what different Government departments might want to locate outside London.

"Naturally we’d like the Bradford district to host one of those re-locations if and when they happen.

"Our district has much to offer including a young, educated workforce who are keen to excel.

"We continue to make the strong case to Government that for levelling up to become a reality, it simply has to include major investment in Bradford, at the heart of the North.

“Often there is not any open, transparent competition to enter into for a Government office re-location.

"We will however be lobbying on this opportunity and others directly with the relevant Ministers."

It is understood that York will make a bid and Crewe and Derby also among the early candidates.

The plan forms part of the Tories’ pledge to move 22,000 civil service jobs out of the capital by the end of the decade.