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29.10.19

RIA chief executive responds to Keith Williams’ select committee evidence

After Keith Williams, of the Williams Rail Review, gave evidence to the Transport Select Committee confirming a likely recommendation from his report being a restructuring UK rail, the Rail Industry Association (RIA) has praised the decision as being welcomed.

Williams’ recommendations for a restructure of UK rail would include more focus on customers and less day-to-day control by the Department of Transport.

Darren Caplan, chief executive of the RIA, responded to Williams’ evidence: "It is clear from Keith Williams' evidence to the Transport Select Committee that he is developing recommendations which, if implemented, will see significant changes to how the UK's railways are structured and run in the future.

“In particular, we welcome and agree with his commitment to a thirty-year vision for our rail network, that will help the industry to plan and implement improvements.

READ MORE: Keith Williams on the Rail Review: an update on progress

READ MORE: Williams Rail Review: The end of saying sorry?

"The Railway Industry Association and its members are clear that - whilst it is right to consider the best operating model for the railway - the supplier voice also needs to heard if we are together build a world-class railway delivering for passenger and freight customers, as well as taxpayers, in the future. Further, there should not be any hiatus in the work required to maintain, renew and enhance the railways whilst Williams' recommendations are implemented.

"We also agree with Williams in supporting a structure where the Department for Transport, its ministers and officials, are responsible and accountable for the strategic direction of the railway, but with rail professionals around the country responsible for implementation.

“Under this structure, we urge both Williams and the DfT to focus on smoothing out ‘boom and bust’ in work flows to reduce the cost of the railway by up to 30%, ensure that recently published upgrade projects progress efficiently through the Rail Network Enhancements Pipeline, and to ensure rail suppliers have support to become even more innovative, efficient and collaborative - helping all who use our rail system."

Keith Williams’ report is expected to be published as a government white paper on the review’s recommendations, prior to implementation of reforms planned to begin from 2020.

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