Looking at the recent news reports, it looks like the up-and-coming franchises will integrate rail infrastructure with the train companies; in short, privatising Network Rail.
Transport secretary puts passengers at the heart of the railway
· special purpose vehicle to progress East West rail for the benefit of passengers
· new franchises to bring closer working between track and train
· Grayling: closer working across the industry, to resolve problems more quickly – putting the needs of the passenger first
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has put the passenger at the heart of delivery across the railway by announcing plans to bring track and train operations closer together.
The Transport Secretary has set out his vision for England’s railways to deliver better, more reliable services to passengers and improved coordination across track renewal and train operations.
Plans include the creation of East West Rail, the first new integrated rail operation in decades that is separate to Network Rail, and the closer alignment of incentives between the management of infrastructure and the operation of train services.
The Transport Secretary said:
“It would be no exaggeration to say that the railways of this country are crucial to its economic future. Without them our economy would grind to a halt.”
“Our railways need to adapt and change in order to be able to cope with the growth that they have already experienced, and that which lies ahead. We need a railway which is sustainable in all senses of the word.”
“East West Rail will provide a commuter route for the crucial centres on its route and will provide the transport spine for additional housing and business development in a corridor which is one of the government’s priority areas for the future of our country.”
“The new organisation will work hand in glove with the National Infrastructure Commission as it plans the development of this nationally important transport corridor to identify the best way to deliver the project.”
In addition, the Secretary of State has announced that he wants to see the rail industry working more closely together to deliver a better service for the passenger.
The Secretary of State, who has updated Parliament of plans this morning, said:
"We want to see closer working across the industry, to resolve problems more quickly – putting the needs of the passenger first. When things go wrong, a lack of a joined-up approach can make things much worse for the passenger."
“I intend to start bringing back together the operation of track and train on our railways. Our railway is much better run by one joined up team of people. They don’t have to work for the same company. They do have to work in the same team.”
Plans for better operation of track and train across the rail network will be achieved through new rail franchises. The first of the new franchises to be let will be on the South Eastern and East Midlands lines, which will be expected to include integrated operating teams between train services and infrastructure. The franchises are due to be awarded in 2018.
The Secretary of State added:
“If our railways are to cope with the challenges of today and tomorrow it will take more investment, new ways of working, new ways of funding improvements, more joined up management. We can and will make this a real golden era for rail. We can transform the passenger experience. We can create opportunities across our society.
“We can and we will make sure our rail network plays its part in making this a country that works for everyone.”
In my opinion, with more railway services to be taken over by TfL to expand their London Overground network, the Department for Transport should transfer the railway infrastructure within London over to TfL as this will enable them to improve services by upgrading the railway infrastructure.
This new plan reminds me of the old Big Four railway companies which was formed as “The Big Grouping” which came into effect back on the 1st January 1923.
There are various campaigns such as Bring Back British Rail with many trade unions objecting to the new plans because of what happened with Railtrack when the government privatised British Rail back in the 1990’s.
To finish off I would like to mention that train companies have to pay Network Rail for CP5 access charges.
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