The Chairman of the ‘root and branch’ rail review to transform Britain’s railways, Keith Williams, has provided an update at the halfway point.
He was speaking at the Accelerate: future of rail conference in London, during which he revealed the choices that need to be made will be tough for the sector, but this is the only way forward if a more customer-centric railway is to be created.
the most significant review since privatisation, the Williams Rail Review will make recommendations to boost the economy, benefit passengers and improve accountability.
During his speech, Keith Williams announced the criteria that will be used to develop a new model for the UK’s rail network, while also launching the next phase of the call for evidence.
The criteria outlines the outcomes that the review wants to achieve in terms of performance, value for money, accessibility and trust.
In terms of freight, this includes targets for environment, workforce and safety.
In his speech, Keith Williams outlined what the criteria must help to deliver: improved customer focus, and “clearer accountability and leadership – a reformed system must make it clear who is taking the decisions that affect passengers and freight customers, so people understand who is in charge.”
Crucially, the review Chairman believes the sector needs to have access to all the tools necessary to ensure major projects are delivered on time and within budget.
This is particularly pertinent for Control Period 6 (CP6); previous control periods have started badly and deteriorated from there.
The plans should negate that potential threat.
Keith Williams said: “Finally, the industry must have access to the full range of project management, engineering, train planning and operational skills needed to ensure delivery of major new initiatives on time and to budget.”
In addition, information has been published regarding lessons the UK can learn from rail networks around the world, including the fact that most railways have a combination of public and private sector involvement.