Latest Rail News


Rail review: Grayling confirms no major changes until 2020

Rail commuters could continue to face disruption until major changes are made to the rail franchising system in 2020, following the transport secretary’s speech to MPs yesterday.

Chris Grayling said he “can’t stand by” with the collapse of franchises such as Virgin Trains East Coast  and current industry struggles to deliver improvements to the rail networks, after the chaos caused by new timetables implemented in May which left the journeys of thousands of commuters disrupted by cancellations and delays.

Last month Grayling commissioned a ‘root-and-branch’ review of the rail industry, to be chaired by former British Airways boss Keith Williams and supported by an external panel of experts – including Roger Marsh, who chairs a new body representing all 11 LEPs in the north of England called NP11.

Other panel members include:

  • Dick Fearn, independent chair of Network Rail’s Western Route Supervisory Board and former chief executive of Irish Rail
  • Tom Harris, former transport minister and MP for Glasgow South
  • Margaret Llewellyn OBE, chair of Network Rail’s Wales Route Supervisory Board and a non-executive director of the Development Bank of Wales
  • Dr Alice Maynard CBE, TfL board member and the former chair of Scope
  • Tony Poulter, non-executive board member at the DfT and chair of the East Coast Partnership

“The review will look at how the railway is organised to deliver for passengers. It will look forensically at the different options, and then make recommendations on what will best deliver results in different areas of the country,” the transport secretary told MPs in the Commons.

The review will conclude with a White Paper in autumn 2019, which will set out its findings and explain how we will deliver reform. Grayling noted that he expects reform to begin from 2020, allowing passengers to see benefits before the next election.

Many will argue that having to deal with the status quo for the next year at minimum will mean not much will change immediately to the quality and reliability of services. Areas hit hardest by the disruption to the rail networks — such as Leeds, Liverpool, and Manchester — have suffered a considerable fall in passengers compared to the previous year.

The recommendations of the review should support the delivery of:

  • Commercial models for the provision of rail services that prioritise the interests of passengers and taxpayers
  • Rail industry structures that promote clear accountability and effective joint-working for both passengers and the freight sector
  • A system that is financially sustainable and able to address long-term cost pressures
  • A railway that is able to offer good value fares for passengers, while keeping costs down for taxpayers
  • Improved industrial relations, to reduce disruption and improve reliability for passengers
  • A rail sector with the agility to respond to future challenges and opportunities

In his speech, Grayling also slammed the door shut on the prospect of renationalisation: “There is an expectation that taking on hundreds of millions of pounds of debt onto the government books will magically resolve every problem.

“This fails to recognise that many of the problems that customers faced this year were down to the nationalised part of the railways. It also creates the sense that a government-controlled rebrand would somehow make every train work on time.

“Those who make this argument fail to tell passengers that the much-needed investment that is taking place today would be at risk, and that taxpayers’ money would be diverted from public services to subsidise losses.”

Last month Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham said pre-emptively shutting the door to nationalisation “fetters” the rail review and constrains expert advice.

Enjoying RTM? Subscribe here to receive our weekly news updates or click here to receive a copy of the magazine!

Image credit: David Mirzoeff, PA Images


There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment


rail technology magazine tv

more videos >

latest rail news

Network Rail’s subsidiary secures systems integrator contract in Australia

14/12/2018Network Rail’s subsidiary secures systems integrator contract in Australia

The Australian subsidiary of Network Rail Consulting has been named as the systems integrator for the Digital Systems Program in Sydney by Transp... more >
Infrastructure giant Amey to be sold to private equity firm in new year

14/12/2018Infrastructure giant Amey to be sold to private equity firm in new year

 Infrastructure giant Amey is expected to be sold to a private equity firm in the new year, according to reports. The Financial Times b... more >
HS2 and Crossrail suppliers admit to running ‘illegal cartel’ for 7 years

14/12/2018HS2 and Crossrail suppliers admit to running ‘illegal cartel’ for 7 years

Two UK rail suppliers to major projects such as HS1, HS2, and Crossrail have admitted to operating an illegal cartel for almost seven years with ... more >

editor's comment

23/01/2018Out with the old...

Despite a few disappointing policy announcements, especially for the electrification aficionados amongst us, 2017 was, like Darren Caplan writes on page 20, a year generally marked by positive news for the rail industry. We polished off the iconic Ordsall Chord (p32), hit some solid milestones on Thameslink (p40), progressed on ambitious rolling stock orders (p16), and finally started moving forward on HS2 (p14) ‒ paving the way for a New Ye... read more >

rail industry focus

View all News


HS2 train race: making the case

20/11/2018HS2 train race: making the case

Bombardier and Hitachi’s commitment to providing the best HS2 rolling stock pitch to the government was signified with the launch of their ... more >
Finding positives in negative short-circuiting devices

09/11/2018Finding positives in negative short-circuiting devices

Sponsored interview  Anything that brings about safety and time-saving benefits is a valued improvement for the rail industry, which is w... more >
Taking to the skies

30/10/2018Taking to the skies

Network Rail’s commitment to driving innovation is best encapsulated by its latest scheme involving high-definition imagery drones, or UAVs... more >

last word

Encouraging youngsters to be safe on the railway

Encouraging youngsters to be safe on the railway

This summer, Arriva Group's CrossCountry and the Scout Association joined to launch a new partnership to promote rail safety among young people. ... more > more last word articles >

'the sleepers' daily blog

Spotlight on Coventry Very Light Rail

27/11/2018Spotlight on Coventry Very Light Rail

Olivia Brown, business development officer at Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG), an academic department of the University of Warwick, outlines th... more >
read more blog posts from 'the sleeper' >


Passenger safety: Respect the edge

27/11/2018Passenger safety: Respect the edge

Claire Coward, communications lead at the RSSB, discusses her organisation’s latest passenger safety campaign. Incidents at the platfo... more >
Night Tube: The twilight economy

27/11/2018Night Tube: The twilight economy

Dr David Lutton, executive director of economy and tax at London First, argues that the capital’s night-time economy is just starting its j... more >
Monitoring the performance of earthworks

27/11/2018Monitoring the performance of earthworks

Dr Joel Smethurst, associate professor in geotechnical engineering, and Professor William Powrie, professor of geotechnical engineering, both of ... more >
Introducing iPort

20/11/2018Introducing iPort

Steve Freeman, managing director of iPort Rail, introduces the UK’s newest inland freight terminal. The UK’s newest inland rail ... more >