4 MARCH 2019
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Britain’s rail franchising system cannot continue as it is. That’s the verdict of former British Airways chief executive Keith Williams, who was appointed the independent chair of the first ‘root and branch’ Rail Review to be supported by government.
In a first evidence paper published last week, Williams said he had heard a lot about how the franchising model was driving growth in passengers and benefits to services, but passengers’ needs had changed with growth while basic elements of the UK rail system had not kept pace.
He added; “Put bluntly, franchising cannot continue the way it is today. It is no longer delivering clear benefits for either taxpayers and farepayers. I believe that for the railway to be successful it needs to put passengers at its heart.
“We need to recognise that there is unlikely to be a ‘one size fits all’ solution which will work for every part of the country and all types of passenger.”
Williams’ review is the first major overseeing of the rail system, with his work supported by an expert panel. The government will publish a white paper on the review’s recommendations, with the implementation of reforms planned to start from 2020.
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