Transport Secretary Chris Grayling set out a new vision for the UK’s railways, including plans to end the operational divide between track and train and an evolution of the franchising system.
The proposals – contained in the government’s Strategic vision for rail – also include commitments to expand the railway network and deliver passenger benefits, including rolling out improved compensation schemes for passengers.
The proposals aimed at creating joined up teams running track and train will make the railway more reliable for passengers and ensure that it works as one to deliver for its customers.
The reforms build on the Secretary of State’s speech to Policy Exchange in December 2016 and the recommendations of the McNulty and Shaw reports.
Building on Network Rail’s recent devolution of infrastructure management to route-based businesses, the plans include changes to the franchising system to ensure that the railway is prepared to manage the challenges of the future, while maintaining the railway infrastructure in public ownership.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: “The last few years have seen massive growth on Britain’s railways. This industry has reversed decades of decline under British Rail, delivered new investment and new trains, and doubled the number of passengers.
“But now we need to build on that success by building a new model for the 2020s and beyond, one more able to deal with the huge rise in passenger numbers and the challenges of an increasingly congested network.
“Rail passengers deserve a more reliable, more efficient service – and I will deliver it by ending the one-size-fits-all approach of franchising and bringing closer together the best of the public and private sector.”
Long-term regional partnerships on the East Coast Mainline will be introduced from 2020. The East Coast Partnership between the public sector and a private partner will be operated by a single management, under a single brand and overseen by a single leader.
Rolling out joint teams running day to day operations across the South Eastern network with plans to introduce a new Alliance Director, responsible for a joint team operating the trains and tracks.
There are plans to introduce a joint team to run the East Midlands franchise following next year’s franchise competition.
Smaller train companies will be introduced, ensuring that every line, station and passenger is central to each train operator’s strategy - this includes splitting up the Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern franchise in 2021, and consulting on a new West of England franchise