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Article from BTNews 28 SEPTEMBER 2020

Rail franchising ends

The Government last week ended rail franchising after 24 years claiming it as the first step in bringing Britain’s fragmented network back together.

The new system will create a simpler, more effective structure and will take shape over the coming months. The first stage, today, is moving operators onto transitional contracts to prepare the ground for the new railway.

Keith Williams, Chair of the Williams Review, and predecessor to Alex Cruz as Chief Executive of British Airways, said: “These new agreements represent the end of the complicated franchising system, demand more from the expertise and skills of the private sector, and ensure passengers return to a more punctual and co-ordinated railway.

“I am ensuring the recommendations I propose are fit for a post-Covid world, but these contracts kick-start a process of reform that will ensure our railways are entirely focused on the passenger, with a simpler, more effective system that works in their best interest.”

A white paper will be published when the course of the pandemic becomes clearer. For the time being the current operators will be paid a maximum of 1.5% of the cost base of the franchise before the pandemic began.

See COMMENT: Passenger train services in Great Britain in this week's BTN.

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David Starkie, London

Not sure what is meant by the end of a complicated franchise system. The same private operators will be running trains but under management contracts.