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‘Root and branch’ rail review launches call for evidence

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The “root and branch” review into the UK’s rail industry, announced by transport Secretary Chris Grayling in September, has launched its call for evidence.

Keith Williams, the former British Airways chief executive who is the independent chair of the review, has invited evidence from a wide range of stakeholders, such as passengers, businesses, investors, and local and devolved bodies and governments.

Williams said: “Creating a railway for the 21st century passenger is at the core of this review.”

“Next year, after forensic investigations and conversations with people across the country, we will deliver a white paper with ambitious proposals for change,” he added.

The former British Airways chief executive will, through the review, examine the whole rail industry, with a particular focus on integrating track and train, regional partnerships and the franchise system.

He will be supported by an external panel and will report next year before the government implements recommendations in 2020.

The review has a wide scope and will focus on:

  • Leveraging the commercial model to ensure improved services for passengers and taxpayers, and more effectively balance public and private sector involvement
  • The roles and structures of all parts of the industry, looking at how they can work together more effectively to reduce fragmentation, improve passenger services and increase accountability
  • How the railway can support a fares system that delivers value for money for passengers and taxpayers; and improved industrial relations to maintain performance for passengers

Upon earlier this year launching the review, Grayling said: “Privatisation has delivered huge benefits of passengers on Britain’s railways – doubling passenger journeys and bringing in billions of private investment.

“But it is clear that the structure we inherited is no longer fit to meet today’s challenges and cope with increasing customer demand.”

He added: “We’ve been clear that the railway needs reform to prioritise its passengers, and we have set out plans for closer partnerships between operators of track and train, including on the LNER and South Eastern networks.

“But as part of our vision for the future of mobility, we need to go further and more quickly, to get the best from the public and private sectors and deliver the railway we need for the 21st century. It is vital that this review leaves no stone unturned and makes bold recommendations for the future.”

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