HS2

05.09.18

Potential rail franchise shake-up in the works as PM pushes for review

The government is considering leading what has been described as the biggest review of the UK’s rail franchising system for two decades in efforts to prevent collapses such as that of the East Coast franchise back in May.

According to reports by the Financial Times, Theresa May has given the green light to a major review— most likely to be led by an independent examiner— to assess methods of improving railway standards without scrapping the use of private operators.

The proposals were discussed in a meeting at Number 10 yesterday hosted by the prime minister’s chief of staff, and is thought to be driven by transport secretary Chris Grayling.

Grayling was forced to take the failing East Coast franchise back under government control in June after the operators behind the franchise, Stagecoach and Virgin, suffered heavy losses and declining performance for passengers.

The review will, however, still require approval from the Treasury, which the FT revealed was “not entirely supportive.”

The news comes after Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn once again led calls for bringing railways back into public ownership “so they are not run in the interests of passengers, not private profit.”

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Image credit: Kirsty O'Connor

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