Britain to hold ‘root and branch’ review of rail transport

Britain to hold ‘root and branch’ review of rail transport

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LONDON (Reuters) – Britain is to launch a serious evaluation of its much-criticised railways after months of disruption to passengers attributable to strikes, timetable modifications and issues with the franchising system first launched within the 1990s.

FILE PHOTO – Passengers have a look at a Departures display screen at St Pancras Worldwide railway station, London, Britain, January 26, 2018. REUTERS/Peter Cziborra

The “root and department” evaluation will probably be headed by Keith Williams, a former British Airways chief govt and present deputy chairman of the John Lewis Partnership, the transport division introduced on Thursday.

Implementation of any reforms it recommends will begin from 2020.

“The evaluation – probably the most vital since privatisation – will think about bold suggestions for reform to make sure our important rail system continues to learn passengers and assist a stronger, fairer financial system,” Transport Secretary Chris Grayling mentioned in a press release.

Williams and his panel will think about all elements of the rail trade, from the franchising system and trade constructions, accountability, and worth for cash for passengers and taxpayers.

They are going to have a look at altering journey and work patterns, the division mentioned, and can make suggestions to enhance the present franchising mannequin.

Britain’s rail trade was privatised in 1997 underneath the Conservative authorities of John Main which separated the operating of trains and tracks, however passengers’ teams have lengthy claimed the division promotes buck-passing and inefficiency.

Since privatisation, fares have risen relentlessly and passenger numbers have doubled, resulting in overcrowding and placing extra stress on state-owned Community Rail, the organisation that maintains tracks and upgrades infrastructure.

Providers on a number of strains have been additional hit by strikes as unions attempt to defend the function of guards on trains and by chaos attributable to timetable modifications launched by eight franchises in Could which led to widespread delays and cancellations.

Additionally in Could, the federal government was compelled to renationalise the rail route between London and Edinburgh for the third time since 2007 after the non-public firm over-estimated income, reigniting the controversy over who ought to run the railways.

Unions have lengthy referred to as for the rail system to be re-nationalised however Thursday’s announcement of the evaluation made no point out of any change to the present franchising system.

“Privatisation has led to a degree of progress by no means seen underneath nationalisation, and reversed the decline the railways noticed underneath British Rail, the place routes and stations had been closing,” the division mentioned in its assertion.

“The federal government has already taken steps to strengthen future practice franchises and enhance reliability. Nonetheless, we need to make sure the rail system continues to ship advantages within the face of those challenges,” it added.

Reporting by Stephen Addison; Enhancing by Alistair Smout

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