A rival bid has been made to host the Great British Rail HQ away from Bolton town centre.

This comes after an announcement earlier this year that Bolton was bidding to bring what could be a economic boost to the town centre.

But this proved controversial given Horwich’s long established railway heritage and the local town council has this week an alternative 'expression of interest' separate from Bolton’s bid to site the Rail HQ in the town.

Bolton Council leader Martyn Cox said: “If either of us wins it would be great, we’ve looked at the criteria very carefully, this is what you need to do if you want to be competitive.”

Great British Railways will be a new body that will absorb National Rail and will run train networks all over the country.

Bolton is one of 42 boroughs around the UK bidding to host the new body’s headquarters after the Secretary of State for Transport announced last October that the government would be running a competition to host it outside of London.

The competition requires contenders to have a rich railway heritage, strong links to the national network and public support for the selected location.

Town Hall leaders in Bolton first expressed their interest in the competition in March this year, but the bid ran into controversy when it was then announced that if successful, the HQ would be in Bolton town centre, rather than Horwich which was a centre of railway engineering for more than a century.

At its height, Horwich Loco Works employed more than 5000 people in the rail industry and attracted people from all over the North West.

Cllr Cox said: “We’ll see what happens, an awful lot of people have put bids in so it’s a long shot for all of us.”

He added: “We have a number of major bids in place so I’m very much of the opinion that some you win, some you lose.”

The final shortlist will be announced shortly.