Britain publishes draft Rail Reform Bill

British draft Rail Reform BillThe British draft Rail Reform Bill, published by the ministers on 20 February 2024, paves the way for the establishment of the new Great British Railways (GBR) which will bring together responsibility for both rail infrastructure and services, and will leverage private sector innovation to deliver a better service.

When passed, it will help deliver on the 2019 manifesto commitment by bringing forward the biggest rail reform programme in a generation to create a simpler, more effective rail system.

The bill will now undergo pre-legislative scrutiny to provide parliamentarians and industry experts the opportunity to review and provide feedback on the legislation. This will allow for time to understand the complexities of these reforms and ensure that the final legislation is as robust as possible. Scrutiny will be led by the Transport Select Committee.

“This draft bill demonstrates our commitment to reforming the railways – working with industry, we will move towards a more modern and financially secure rail network that delivers for passengers for the next 200 years, too,” Transport Secretary, Mark Harper, said.

The British draft Rail Reform Bill applies mainly to Great Britain, with Scottish and Welsh ministers continuing to exercise existing devolved responsibilities, but with an option to delegate contracting authority to GBR to enable the integration of track and train across Great Britain if they wished to pursue it.

The national headquarters of GBR will be in Derby, which was chosen following a rigorous assessment process and public vote, and will deliver yet more high-skilled jobs to the city. Since it was set up in 2021, the Great British Railways Transition Team (GBRTT) has already helped lay the foundations for bringing track and train together, uniting expertise from across Network Rail, DfT and the private sector to help tackle the challenges faced by the railways.

GBR will also be tasked with driving forward the UK’s rail freight sector, where the government recently set an ambitious target of 75% growth by 2050.

Along with the draft Rail Reform Bill, the government’s response to the public consultation on its Plan for Rail is also being published. This sets out how the public’s views on the proposed reforms have informed what has been taken forward in the draft legislation. The new GBR will bring a whole-system view, benefiting customers and taxpayers and balancing the needs of operators and infrastructure. Across the many responses we received from individuals, industry and organisations there is support for the proposed primary legislative changes set out in the consultation.


Share on: