UK Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, has launched a “sweeping review to transform Britain’s railways”, seen as the most significant initiative since privatization. The government will publish a white paper on the review’s recommendations, with the implementation of reforms planned to start from 2020.
“Privatisation has delivered huge benefits to passengers on Britain’s railways, doubling passenger journeys and bringing in billions of private investment. But it is clear that the structure we inherited is no longer fit to meet today’s challenges and cope with increasing customer demand,” Grayling said.
The review, led by independent chair Keith Williams, the former British Airways chief executive and deputy chairman of John Lewis Partnership, will build on the government’s franchising strategy, bringing track and train closer together to reduce disruption and improve accountability, and considering regional partnerships and how we can use innovation to improve services and value for money for passengers.
The review will analyse all aspects of the industry, alongside the country’s changing travel and work patterns. It will make recommendations to improve the current franchising model in terms of reliability, delivering better services and value for money for passengers, commercial sustainability and innovation.
The review will focus on leveraging the commercial model to ensure improved services for passengers and taxpayers, on the roles and structures of all parts of the industry and on the method railways can support a fares system that delivers value for money for passengers and taxpayers.
While the review is taking place, the government will continue with its programme of investment totaling £48 billion (EUR 53.7 billion) over the next 5 years. All other ongoing franchise competitions and other live rail projects are continuing as planned.
In UK, passenger journeys have more than doubled, from 735 million in 1994-5 to 1.73 billion in 2016-17. Private investment is at record levels, totalling £5.6 billion (EUR 6.3 billion) over the past 10 years, and the rail network has one of the highest rates of satisfaction and safety in Europe.