The Transport Secretary has launched a ‘root and branch’ review that aims to transform the railways in Britain.
Seen as the most significant review since privatisation, recommendations will be sought to benefit passengers on the railway and boost the economy.
Former British Airways Chief Executive, Keith Williams, will lead this major ‘root and branch’ review of Britain’s railways, and will be supported by a panel of experts.
The structure of the rail industry will be reviewed during this process, building on the government’s franchising strategy in order to increase the integration between track and train, as well as considering regional partnerships; and how the government can use innovation to improve services and value.
Importantly, the government’s ‘root and branch’ review will seek to reduce disruption and improve accountability for problems.
These points are especially important given the difficulties experienced in the rail industry throughout the summer, with timetables for Northern rail franchise; passenger experience has been severely dented and responsibility for the problems has been a source of contention.
All parts of the rail sector will be considered as part of the ‘root and branch’ review, with the current franchising system, industry structures, accountability, and value for money for taxpayers all topics of conversation.
Although passenger journeys have more than doubled over the last 22 years, the wider industry hasn’t been able to keep pace with this growth – something that the timetable disruption in May perfectly highlighted.
The review’s recommendations will look at improving the reliability of the current franchising model, delivering benefits in the face of challenges in the sector.
Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, said: “We’ve been clear that the railway needs reform to prioritise its passengers and we have set out plans for closer partnerships between operators of track and train, including on the LNER and South Eastern networks.
“But as part of our vision for the future of mobility, we need to go further and more quickly to get the best from the public and private sectors and deliver the railway we need for the 21st century.
“It is vital that this review leaves no stone unturned and makes bold recommendations for the future.”
The review panel will report next year, and a white paper will be published based on these recommendations, to be implemented at the start of 2020.
During this process, Network Rail’s Control Period 6, involving record investment in the railway, will continue as planned.