Fares, rail policy and DfT news


Williams rail review consultation launched ahead of 2020 white paper

The independent chair of the rail review Keith Williams has launched a call for evidence from a wide range of stakeholders, including passenger representatives, businesses, local and devolved bodies, and “leading thinkers and investors.”

He will be travelling up and down the country to visit cities, towns and regions that rely on rail connectivity to listen to locals and gather information that can help inform what the government has promised will be a transformation of the rail industry – although no major changes will take place until 2020, and Chris Grayling has already ruled out the possibility of renationalisation.

Launched in response to the disastrous May timetable and longstanding concerns over what has been repeatedly labelled a “broken” franchising system, the rail review is being led by the former British Airways boss alongside an external panel of experts.

Assuring that creating a “railway for the 21st-century passenger is at the core of this review,” Williams said: “We’re launching a call for evidence and want to hear from passengers, the industry, leading thinkers and investors – and also the cities, towns and regions who depend on their rail connections.

“Next year, after forensic investigations and conversations with people across the country, we will deliver a white paper with ambitious proposals for change.”

The review will consider “ambitious” recommendations for reform, but this will likely be aligned with the government’s existing proposals to bring track and train closer together.

Written contributions can inform the review’s work on any or all of its principles, including ideas for commercial models to provide rail services; industry structures that promote accountability and effective joint working; addressing long-term cost pressures and making the sector financially sustainable; and improving industrial relations.

Topics which will not be considered by the review include public investment decisions made through existing franchise agreements; CP6 funding; HS2 and other major projects; and spending decisions made through next year’s Spending Review.

To take part in the consultation, which closes on 18 January, click here.

Top image: Victoria Jones via PA


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