Keith Williams, independent chair of the Williams Rail Review, has provided an update as well as what needs to change to ultimately make the sector successful.
Announced last year by Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, the Rail Review was established to recommend the most appropriate organisational and commercial frameworks that will support the delivery of the government’s vision for the railway.
This ‘root and branch’ review – the biggest since privatisation – is aimed at transforming the railways, with recommendations expected to benefit passengers and the economy.
Former British Airways Chief Executive, Keith Williams is leading the major review and is supported by an expert challenge panel.
Speaking at the annual Bradshaw Address, Keith Williams said the rail industry is committed to “renewing and enhancing” the network – something that is evident by the huge amounts being spent on CP6 projects – yet, up to now, the rail industry hasn’t yet been able to respond to consumer demand.
He said: “We are spending on the railway, in offering new services, purchasing new rolling stock and renewing and enhancing the network.
“The May timetable change, for instance, was designed to offer thousands of new services, hundreds of new trains and much improved critical infrastructure – but as a system we were unable to deliver on this investment, and the customer suffered.”
One of the areas that the Chair has identified that has to change is within franchising, which “is no longer delivering clear benefits for either taxpayers and farepayers.”
He said: “I believe that for the railway to be successful it needs to put passengers at its heart.
“We need to recognise that there is unlikely to be a ‘one size fits all’ solution which will work for every part of the country and all types of passenger.”
This autumn, the review panel will recommend change through a white paper, resulting in “the biggest and widest review of the railway for generations.”