Radical rail reforms launched by the governmentComments Off on Radical rail reforms launched by the government
The Railway sector is on track for the biggest shake-up to its model since the 90s after Whitehall recognised the need for a complete overhaul. After years of anticipation, challenges and delays, it pledges to ‘fix the system’ and deliver a better service for passengers across the country. The government’s white paper presents a brand new vision for the country’s rail network.
Key takeaways from the white paper included the creation of a new body, Great British Railways (GBR). This is set to absorb existing organisations like Network Rail and bring the entire system together, similar to the Transport for London model in the capital. Bringing everything under one umbrella is ambitious but welcome, various elements such as timetables and fares are vastly different wherever you are in the country and this will help improve the system and provide consistency for passengers.
Speaking of fares, they’re set to be ‘simplified’ and designed for ‘for the passenger’. Prices are constantly rising and private franchises have failed for a number of years in delivering efficiency. New plans will see fares being set centrally and getting rid of thousands of existing, and somewhat complex pricing combinations. However, the problem is that there’s no guarantee this change will be cheaper.
Coinciding with a change in the way people work following the pandemic, one of the biggest changes will be flexible tickets for those who are moving to hybrid working. This will be a welcome change for those making the switch to this new way of working.
Breaking away from rail franchising, the government outlined that the new system will be run by GBR who will then pay each operator to run their services. So passengers won’t see any name changes but they will hopefully see an improvement in service. Bonuses will be given to companies who fulfil certain criteria such as punctuality and cleanliness.
Finally, aligning to the UK’s climate targets, the government plans to decarbonise the rail network over the next 30 years. A bigger, more detailed ‘environmental plan’ will be published in 2022 highlighting how it plans to set out this change. These changes will be welcome news to commuters across the country, who have been dealing with delays, price increases and overcrowding for years. Hopefully with a more central body holding companies to account, services will improve significantly.
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