Current franchising model “has had its day” - Williams

Keith Williams, independent chairman of the Government’s Rail Review, says the current franchising model has “had its day” - but that he is not considering giving Network Rail control over the trains. 

Speaking at a Northern Powerhouse Partnership event in Bradford today (July 16), Williams said of franchising: “What worked in the 25 years after privatisation is now holding the sector back. It hampers collaboration, stops the railway working as a system, and encourages operators to protect narrow commercial interest above passengers.” 

He called for a different relationship between the public and private sector that lets train operators get on with running services in the interest of passengers.

But he dismissed suggestions NR could run trains, saying: “You don’t create a customer-focused railway by putting engineers in charge.” 

He highlighted five areas as being the “core passenger offer”: punctuality and reliability; safety and security; value for money; consistency and transparency; and accessibility.

He also pointed to less involvement from the Government, saying: “The Government will have to step back from the railway, but creating greater distance from government must also bring the railway closer to passengers.”

  • For more on this story and industry reaction, see RAIL 884, on sale on July 31.

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