The way the railways are run and regulated needs a fundamental overhaul according to Rail Delivery Group Chief Executive Paul Plummer.
Writing in The Times on August 16, he called for a ‘once in a generation reform’ of the rail industry.
Plummer says “it is clearer than ever that we need to change how we run our railway”, and that a new model for running the railway must have passengers at its heart.
He said government must make long-term decisions but step back from imposing “well-meaning details” that stifle private-sector innovation.
Plummer added that potential reforms include greater devolution, services more tailored and responsive to the needs of customers and communities, better alignment of track and train, and using competition to give customers better services.
In the article, Plummer said the private sector, working in partnership with the public sector, has a vital role to play in delivering the better railway everybody wants. To achieve this, however, he argues that the private sector’s role needs to be ‘recast’ so that rail services improve for customers, communities and the economy.
Greater devolution, said Plummer, is needed to realise the benefits of an integrated transport system, with fewer decisions taken in Westminster and more power given to local representatives. The North and the South West are identified regions that could benefit, with devolution having worked well in Scotland, Merseyside and London.
All parties – train companies, governments, Network Rail and people working in rail – need to change, he said.
Plummer concluded: “We don’t have all the answers, but we know that a new model for our railways must have passengers at its heart and objectives must be aligned. We want governments and political parties of all colours to join us and re-imagine a railway fit not just for today but for the next two decades.”
- For the FULL story, read RAIL 860, published on August 29, and available digitally on Android/iPad on August 25.