Northern Powerhouse


WYCA calls for ‘significant reform’ to rail system in submission to Williams Review

The West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) has called for “significant reforms” to the current system for commissioning and operating rail services in its submission to the Williams Review.

The combined authority has stated that the current system “is not working for the region,” and said that the rail system should be designed to support the Northern Powerhouse programme of regeneration.

The Williams Review, led by Keith Williams, was commissioned by the government in 2018 in order to recommend the most appropriate organisational and commercial frameworks for the UK’s railways.

The government is due to publish a white paper in response to the review’s recommendations in autumn 2019 with reform of the sector beginning in 2020 and in December last year a consultation was launched calling for evidence.

In its submission to the review, WYCA said the current commissioning and operating rail services were not working and stressed that reform was needed to create a railway framework which puts customers first.

Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council and WYCA lead on transport, said: “As recent months have demonstrated, the current system for operating the railway is not working for our region.

“Alongside significant investment in infrastructure, we urgently need a rail system that meets the needs of, and is accountable to, the north of England.

“It is vital that the Williams Review delivers the rail reforms that our region urgently requires and ensures that passengers are put first. We would welcome the opportunity to further contribute to the review and to help shape its recommendations.”

The chair of the combined authority’s transport committee Kim Groves called the Williams Review a “huge opportunity to help shape our railway.”

She said: “Rail demand is continuing to grow but the current framework is not fit for purpose.

“We need a rail system that puts passengers first and integrates track and train to support our efforts to deliver economic growth which benefits all our communities.”


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