Great British Railways: Replaces Network Rail & more changes - updates only (non-speculative)

Status
Not open for further replies.

sprite

Member
Joined
4 Jan 2011
Messages
144
Location
Leeds
Mod Note: This is going to be a large area of discussion for some time to come and it would be inappriopate to discuss everything in one thread. Please see below for links to other relevant threads:

From: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-57176858

The government has announced the biggest shake-up in the UK's railways since privatisation in the mid-1990s.
The reform plan will see the creation of a new state-owned body, Great British Railways (GBR), which will own and manage rail infrastructure.
But there will still be a role for the private sector, with private operators contracted to run most trains.
And next month, flexible season tickets will be available for some people who commute two or three times a week.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the plan would "deliver a rail system the country can be proud of".
As part of the reform, the existing operator of infrastructure, Network Rail, will disappear.
GBR will also collect fare revenue, run the network and set most fares and timetables when it comes into existence in 2023.
However, many reforms will come into force before then, including the introduction of flexible season tickets, offering savings on certain routes for people who do not travel to work every day.
These will go on sale on 21 June, for use seven days later.
The carnet-style tickets will allow passengers to travel on any eight days in a 28-day period.The plan is contained in a White Paper, based on the recommendations of a review of the industry carried out by former British Airways chief executive Keith Williams. It followed the chaotic introduction of new timetables in May 2018.

The plan was initially due to be published in autumn 2019, but was delayed by the general election and the coronavirus pandemic.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
Sponsor Post - registered members do not see these adverts; click here to register, or click here to log in
R

RailUK Forums

brad465

Established Member
Joined
11 Aug 2010
Messages
3,246
Location
Maidstone
This appears to include results/recommendations from the Williams-Shapps' review, which also plans to bring in flexible season tickets as well as this new GBR body.
 

JonathanH

Established Member
Joined
29 May 2011
Messages
9,251
From https://news.railbusinessdaily.com/industry-reaction-to-williams-shapps-plans-for-rail/

Some rather optimistic stuff here

Industry reaction to Williams-Shapps Plans for Rail

By
Danny Longhorn
May 19, 2021
Rail Delivery Group
Long-awaited plans to reform Britain’s railways and launch a new era for passengers have been revealed.

The biggest change in 25 years sees the creation of the new public body Great British Railways – described as a single, familiar brand with united, accountable leadership.

The Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail aims to bring the fragmentation on the railways to an end as they come under a single, accountable national leadership.

Advertisement

“These proposals can deliver the biggest changes in a generation”

Andy Bagnall, Director General of the Rail Delivery Group, representing train operators, said: “Train companies have long called for many of the reforms in this white paper and these proposals can deliver the biggest changes in a generation.

“Getting the detail right will be crucial to ensuring that the white paper fulfils its potential to improve journeys, offer independent oversight and clear accountability, and create a new set of fares which are simpler and more value for money.

“For our passengers, we are ambitious to move quickly and work with government so that we can attract people back onto trains with better services and maximise the railway’s contribution to the recovery.

Advertisement

“We welcome the commitment that new passenger service contracts will allow room for local train companies to use private sector expertise to respond to what their customers want on the ground and attract more passengers, boosting Britain’s economy.

“Flexible tickets for commuters and more pay-as-you-go are good news for passengers. To really maximise the benefits and make it easier for people to get good value fares requires government to go further and get under the bonnet to fix the engine of the fares system.

“Train operators called for a guiding mind and Great British Railways will help to bring the whole industry together. To deliver for passengers and freight customers, it must have the independence to hold the operators of both tracks and trains to account equally. Crucially, it needs to allow operators to put their customers at the absolute forefront of decision making.”

In 2018 Keith Williams, former CEO of British Airways, was asked to review the structure of the railways after a chaotic timetable change, the failure of some franchises and the absence of accountability.

The government says the new structure fulfils his recommendations and fundamentally answers those challenges, creating a competitive and viable railway, with ministers holding Great British Railways to account, giving passengers faith in a clear, single point of responsibility where the buck stops to build confidence and trust in the railways.

Under the plans, Network Rail, the current infrastructure owner, will be absorbed into the public body to bring about single, unified and accountable leadership for the national network.

“Passengers deserve a reliable, affordable and sustainable railway, focussed on them”

Andrew Haines, Network Rail chief executive, said: “Passengers deserve a reliable, affordable and sustainable railway, focussed on them. Today’s announcement will help us deliver that by simplifying the railway, paving the way to dismantle the legacy of complexity and fragmentation. Passengers and freight users will once more be put front and centre of a service designed and run for their needs.

“These changes will take time, but I am determined to get to work quickly with the industry and government. The pandemic has created significant challenges for the industry, and that means the changes we have to make are even more urgent. We must attract passengers back, deliver efficiencies and improve the service we provide. Today marks the start of an exciting new chapter for our railway, a chapter that puts the passenger first.”

“We are heartened that the new Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail is a 30-year strategy”

Darren Caplan, Chief Executive of the Railway Industry Association (RIA), said: “It is good to see the Williams Review published today, giving some certainty to the Government’s plans for the railways as we emerge from the Coronavirus pandemic.

“As far as the Railway Industry Association and our members are concerned, we are heartened that the new Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail is a 30-year strategy, which supports modernisation and investment along the lines of the RIA Rail 2050 manifesto we published in November 2019. As we argued then, it is right to take a long-term approach, in order to smooth boom and bust and provide more certainty for rail schemes, decarbonise and digitalise the network, deliver major projects, protect and create jobs, and foster innovation and collaboration between railway partners. We also welcome the ambition to attract passengers and freight back to the network and grow both markets.

“We will of course be examining the contents of the White Paper in further detail over the coming days and look forward to working with Government, the new Great British Railways organisation, Network Rail and other industry stakeholders, to deliver a railway fit for the future. Our major ask at this stage, however, is that the restructure of UK rail does not cause any hiatus in work being done to renew and enhance railway infrastructure or rolling stock, to ensure everyone in the industry can help rail to build back better as we emerge from the pandemic.”

“We look forward to working with government and the new Great British Railways organisation”

RSSB’s Chief Executive Mark Phillips said: “RSSB welcomes today’s publication of the Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail providing a little more clarity and transparency following the three-year review. We look forward to working with Government and the new Great British Railways organisation to develop the detail, and continuing to play our part for Britain’s railways, passengers and freight customers.”

“This raft of changes is what the rail industry and its passengers have been waiting for”

Maria Machancoses, CEO of Midlands Connect, which is the transport partner of the Midlands Engine, and the Midlands’ Sub-national Transport Body, said: “This raft of changes is what the rail industry and its passengers have been waiting for, and if implemented correctly, could have huge benefits for travellers. By specifying timetables, service levels and operating standards, this concession model will reward operators for delivering what passengers want most – trains that run on time, friendly service and clean stations.

“The rail network has become very fragmented over the last 20 years, so coordinating the network via a centralised organisation, the ‘Great British Railway’ presents many opportunities, including providing the public with much needed clarity on decision making – who is ultimately responsible for what. However, this centralisation also presents risks – namely that the new structure will be less agile or have a lesser understanding of local issues than the previous franchising model. We must prevent decisions about local services being made centrally, impeded by a limited understanding of the local area, its economic needs or people that live there. As we continue to identify and develop the key strategic rail priorities for the region, Midlands Connect, alongside our local councils is best placed to support Government and the proposed GBR in achieving this.

“This simplified system will make it a great deal easier to develop and implement an ‘oyster-style’ smart ticketing system for our region – including the simplification of fares. While it’s great that flexible season tickets are being deployed to support flexible working post-COVID, a multi-modal, capped and contactless payment system is what’s truly needed. Flexible ticketing should go beyond rail and we look forward to working with GBR in developing an affordable ‘tap and cap’ scheme that works across all public transport modes.”

The Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail, published today, sets out the path towards a truly passenger-focused railway, underpinned by new contracts that prioritise punctual and reliable services, the rapid delivery of a ticketing revolution, with new flexible and convenient tickets, and long-term proposals to build a modern, greener and accessible network.

“We welcome the publication of the Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail”

John Larkinson, Chief Executive of the rail regulator, the Office of Rail and Road, said: “We welcome the publication of the Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail and will continue to work closely with government and industry to facilitate reform, and reshape rail for the future.

“Our independent oversight and assurance will be important in bringing transparency to decisions and will help ensure the new public body, Great British Railways, is held accountable for working in the best interests of all users, funders and passengers.”

“The Williams-Shapps plan is an opportunity to build on the success of devolved rail networks“

The Managing Director of Transport North East, Tobyn Hughes, who leads for Urban Transport Group on rail, said: “Railways are a key component of local public transport networks, and they also provide our towns and cities with the regional and national connectivity they need. This is why transport authorities are some of the biggest investors in the railway and why one in three rail trips are made on services for which devolved authorities and administrations are responsible.

“The Williams-Shapps plan is an opportunity to build on the success of devolved rail networks like London Overground and Merseyrail Electrics by giving transport authorities a stronger role in line with local aspirations and capabilities. There is an immediate opportunity on fares and ticketing to better integrate rail with existing city region smart and multi-modal ticketing products. Passengers in the city regions want a joined up public transport network with a single ticketing system and rail needs to be part of this, not standing outside of it.

“If the city regions are to build back better after the pandemic then we need to expand urban rail networks – with new routes and services and more capacity. This in turn means the railway needs to become more responsive and efficient. A streamlined structure, clearer lines of accountability and tighter contracts should help underpin this so that the railway can play its full part in working with us to support a green and robust recovery from COVID-19.”

“Welcome this plan, but the devil will be in the detail”

Paul Tuohy, Chief Executive of Campaign for Better Transport, said: “We welcome this plan with its focus on the needs of passengers, simpler fares and contactless ticketing. But the devil will be in the detail. Will flexible season tickets – so sorely needed to encourage commuters back onto trains – offer a decent discount? Will there be single-leg pricing to make fares fair and transparent?

“Will the very welcome commitment to grow the rail network be backed by proper funding so that disconnected communities can access the opportunities that rail brings? It’s also vital that Network Rail can be held to account under these new arrangements.

“If we’re to avoid a car-led recovery after COVID, with disastrous traffic jams, pollution and communities being left behind, it’s more vital than ever that the rail network properly meets people’s needs.”

“The government is changing the model, but protecting the privateers, and privatising any profit.

Mick Whelan, general secretary of ASLEF, the train drivers’ trade union, said: “The railway is a key artery in the industrial body of Britain and the social fabric of this country. It is one of the prime means of moving people, and goods, around the UK.

“That’s why it is deeply disappointing that we have had to wait 18 months for the publication of a report which was finished in November 2019. The people who work on the railway – and the passengers and businesses who depend on us – deserve better.

“We welcome the – albeit belated – admission that the privatisation of our railways by John Major’s Tory government in 1994 has been an abject failure. Everyone is delighted to see the back of the franchise system.

“The big question is why are private operators still involved in what is, and will always be, a service monopoly where there is, and can be, no real competition? The old arguments of “risk and reward” don’t apply. There are no risks, so why should there be rewards?

“Under these plans the private companies will still pocket a profit, but all the risk – the revenue risk – is being dumped back on the public purse. The government is changing the model, but protecting the privateers, and privatising any profit.

“Great British Railways? Well, we believe in a great British railway – in the public ownership of a public service – where the wheels and steel – the locomotives, carriages, and the rails on which they run – are brought back together in a vertically-integrated operation to benefit businesses and passengers.

“We fear that, with capacity falling through the floor because of COVID-19, and a £2.9 billion shortfall in revenue at the fare box, the government is going to use the Williams-Shapps plan to try and justify cuts in services.

“We want to see proper investment in the railway, integration with buses in towns and cities and villages, to help people and to help businesses. The railway is the green transport of the future – if it is electrified – and will help the UK meets its emissions targets. Sadly, this report comes up short in too many respects.”

“This will do nothing to encourage people back to our railways”

TSSA General Secretary, Manuel Cortes, said: “Our union always welcomes a repentant sinner and today the Conservatives have admitted that their Frankenstein privatisation experiment on our railways has failed – and the franchising of train services has hit the buffers.

“Grant Shapps might like to pretend this is the biggest shake up of the railways in a quarter of a century but that is misleading. Rather than take the bold action that our rail network desperately needs this is an attempt merely to paper over the cracks.

“A concessions based model will still see passengers and taxpayer money leak out of our industry in the form of dividend payments for the greedy shareholders of the private operators who will hold them.

“This will do nothing to encourage people back to our railways – and Ministers should be straight about that. In some ways we are going back to the future with the creation of a strategic body for our railways. We used to have one called the Strategic Rail Authority and it was abolished because it failed to end fragmentation.

“The fact of the matter is that only a fully integrated rail network in public ownership will do this. Shapps, Boris Johnson and rest must think again and stop tinkering around the edges.

“Coming out of this pandemic our country needs a railway that works for people not profit. Nothing else will do.”

“Change is desperately needed on the railways and so I welcome today’s announcement”

Councillor Martin Gannon, Chair of the North East Joint Transport Committee, said: “Change is desperately needed on the railways and so I welcome today’s announcement.

“As a region we have a bold vision for integrated transport as outlined in the North East Transport Plan, and we want more influence over our local railways, focusing on improving access for communities. We’re pleased to see a commitment to giving local leaders greater control over local ticketing, timetables and stations. These decisions should not be taken by people based hundreds of miles away.

“Railways connect our communities to jobs and education, link us to the rest of the UK, and provide sustainable arteries for freight. The operating system that has been with us since rail privatisation has not worked. Secondary routes that are hugely important to our towns and cities have deteriorated while companies have competed ferociously for profitable passengers on trunk routes. Yet strangely the companies running the profitable East Coast Main Line have gone out of business several times over. The system does not work.

“The fragmented system has also led to absurd scenarios like there being too many services planned for the track capacity available, something affecting the North East right now which will lead to negative consequences. As Great British Railways will be responsible for the whole railway, I look forward to better and more joined up planning for the future, aligned to what the economy needs, taking account of input from local areas.”

“Lays down a significant marker to transform our railways for the better”

Matthew Fell, CBI Chief UK Policy Director, said: “The Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail lays down a significant marker to transform our railways for the better. Not only can these reforms bring real day-to-day benefits to passengers, but they can also play a meaningful role in building the levelled-up, low-carbon economy of the future.

“The new system will be public transport, privately delivered. Implemented effectively, it will see some of the UK’s most dynamic firms working in partnership with the new Great British Railways body to modernise UK rail provision and taking important first steps to make fares simple, transparent and flexible.

“Bringing together track and train, with genuinely independent oversight, should further boost accountability and tackle the current fragmentation which has hampered service improvements. A 30-year strategy offers the stability required for long-term business investment and innovation.

“It’s critical that this blueprint is now backed by swift action – in partnership with industry – to drive the return of passengers to the railways after the pandemic and in the years to come.”

“This is a major national moment and a shift in how the railway is run”

Tim Wood, Transport for the North’s Interim Chief Executive, said: “The North saw first-hand the effects of a fragmented rail industry during the 2018 timetable crisis. The fact that Great British Railways will bring track and train together as the guiding mind and put the needs of passengers first is a giant leap forward and something we’ve championed.

“This is a major national moment and a shift in how the railway is run. But this national approach must not be a missed opportunity for further devolution, giving the North’s leaders greater oversight of services and infrastructure investment to deliver more integrated regional networks that work for all.

“The commitment to growing and investing in the railway over the next 30 years only emphasises the real need for the Government to publish the Integrated Rail Plan for the North and Midlands without delay, to give us much-needed certainty on delivery of major schemes like Northern Powerhouse Rail, HS2 and the Transpennine Route Upgrade.

“As an established and effective partnership in the North of England, Transport for the North will collaboratively engage with Government as it begins to work through the detail and we stand ready to drive positive change in the interest of our passengers.”

“Passengers must come first, and their needs must be put ahead of profits”

Dan Jarvis, Mayor of the Sheffield City Region, said: “I welcome the Williams-Shapps Review and the plan that local leaders will be given greater control, but it’s vital that alongside these controls comes the investment needed to improve our railways. Rebranding the railways will not solve the underlying problems for passengers nor level up the North.

“Passengers must come first, and their needs must be put ahead of profits. In South Yorkshire and across the North we need transformational investment to upgrade our decrepit Victorian infrastructure and improve connectivity between Northern towns and cities.

“If this government want to be taken seriously on the levelling up agenda, this will be a key test that they must meet.”
 

JonathanH

Established Member
Joined
29 May 2011
Messages
9,251
From https://news.railbusinessdaily.com/williams-shapps-plan-ten-outcomes-laid-out-in-the-white-paper/

Williams-Shapps Plan – Ten outcomes laid out in the White Paper

By
Danny Longhorn
May 19, 2021

The biggest change the rail industry has seen for 25 years will see the creation of a new public body Great British Railways – a single familiar brand with united, accountable leadership.

The Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail includes simpler, modern fares delivered starting with new flexible season tickets on sale from June 21, and a new Great British Railways website for all tickets and clearer compensation.

There are also reforms support delivery of a financially sustainable railways as the country recovers from COVID-19, with new contracts focused on punctuality and improved efficiency making it easier and cheaper to plan maintenance, renewal and upgrades.

The ten outcomes laid out in the White Paper are:

Modern passenger experience – Passengers must receive high-quality, consistent services. More accessible, reliable, well connected journeys and a new customer offers at stations and on trains.

Retail revolution – simpler, modern ways of paying for travel and straightforward compensation. Clear prices, digital ticketing and flexibility will underpin this transformation.

New ways of working with the private sector – Passenger Service Contracts will replace franchising. New opportunities for innovators, suppliers (including small and local partners) and funders will be created through streamlined contracts and more contestability.

Economic recovery and financially sustainable railways -The railways are a public service, paid for by taxpayers and passengers. Bringing together responsibility for cost and revenue in Great British Railways will ensure the railways become more financially sustainable.

Greater control for local people and places – Railways will be more responsive to the needs of local communities. Empowered, locally-led teams will support improvements and be accountable to the people and places they serve.

Cleaner, greener railways – Railways will spearhead the nation’s ambition to become a world leader in clean, green transport. Decarbonisation, greater biodiversity and improvements in air quality will ensure rail is a cleaner public transport network.

New opportunities for freight – National co-ordination offering greater flexibility and responsiveness will create new opportunities for rail freight. Modern contracts will ensure the sector continues to keep goods moving and delivering vital economic and environmental benefits.

Increased speed of delivery and efficient enhancements – Restoring lost rail links and accelerating the delivery of critical upgrades to the network will support new economic growth and connectivity across our nations and regions.

Skilled, innovative workforce – A culture of collaboration, strengthening leadership and enhancing the skills of people working across the sector are vital to delivering a better service for passengers. High-value and fulfilling opportunities for staff will ensure they can best serve the needs of customers.

Simpler industry structure – A ‘guiding mind’ for the system delivered by ‘Great British Railways’, which will be organised around regional railways. People, culture and incentives will focus on serving all customers, with clear accountability, better decision-making and a single financial system. A 30-year strategy will enable the sector to transform and modernise efficiently.
 

backontrack

Established Member
Joined
2 Feb 2014
Messages
6,154
Location
The UK
I feel a little uncomfortable about Network Rail's brief being taken by a body - in this case GBR - with a particularly large amount of other responsibilities, because it makes track maintenance a smaller proportion of their duties. Going from Railtrack to Network Rail was a huge step up, and I have this nagging worry that standards are going to slip.
 

HST43257

Member
Joined
10 Apr 2020
Messages
1,012
Location
York
Has the report been bushed yet? If so, please can someone send a link here ASAP?
 

infobleep

Established Member
Joined
27 Feb 2011
Messages
10,690
As for the carnet ticketing, I would rather they weren't so heavily time-limited.

For example, if I have gift card or voucher they often last a year, so if prefer that length of time.

I would buy them if they lasted that long. Of course, they would need to extend beyond just one operator and if I was making a journey at night and another the next day, I imagine they wouldn't be much benefit.
 

backontrack

Established Member
Joined
2 Feb 2014
Messages
6,154
Location
The UK
"If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

The current privatised system is broken. I can't help but shake the feeling, however, that they're leaving the broken bits alone, and 'fixing' the stuff that already works.
 

infobleep

Established Member
Joined
27 Feb 2011
Messages
10,690
Has the report been bushed yet? If so, please can someone send a link here ASAP?
It's possible all the media reports are based on a press release and the report isn't out yet. It isn't unheard of this government to issue briefings to the press at night. Perhaps previous governments did likewise.
 

JonathanH

Established Member
Joined
29 May 2011
Messages
9,251
It's possible all the media reports are based on a press release and the report isn't out yet. It isn't unheard of this government to issue briefings to the press at night. Perhaps previous governments did likewise.
It looks like enough has been made available to the press so that the newspapers can publish their stories (with a 10.30pm embargo) and it will then lead people to look at the report when it is published on the DfT website in the morning. Some of the people who have provided quotes in the piece I quoted above in message 9 have presumably had advance copies.
 

LNW-GW Joint

Veteran Member
Joined
22 Feb 2011
Messages
16,202
Location
Mold, Clwyd
A more detailed view of the changes from the Railway Gazette.
Great British Railways to provide ‘united, accountable leadership’ for the rail sector | Rail Business UK | Railway Gazette International

Great British Railways​

Great British Railways will own the infrastructure, plan the network, set ‘most’ fares and timetables and collect fare revenue.
GBR will absorb the current infrastructure manager Network Rail to provide ‘single, unified and accountable leadership’, using ‘a single, familiar brand — updating the famous National Rail double arrow’.

The Department for Transport said GBR would ‘drive significant efficiencies in the railways’ inflated costs, reducing complexity and duplication, increasing flexibility, changing working practices and making it easier and cheaper to invest.’

The reforms envisage that the government would set the overall strategic direction for the industry, including infrastructure investment and fares policy, through a 30-year plan that is intended to ensure money is targeted and used efficiently.

Private sector operators​

DfT said the Williams-Shapps plan was aimed at simplification but not renationalisation, which the government ‘continues to believe failed the railways’. It envisaged that there would be a ‘substantial, and often greater’ role for the private sector.

GBR will award Passenger Service Contracts for the operation of most train services in England to the timetables and fares it specifies, using a concession model which DfT said would be similar to that used by Transport for London for London Overground inner-suburban and Docklands Light Railway metro services. Devolved arrangements in Scotland and Wales will remain in place.

The actual White Paper is not yet published, and will probably appear tomorrow when Grant Shapps makes his announcement in the Commons - this is just the press briefing.
Hopefully it will tell us some meat rather than apple pie, and name some of the names who will deliver it.
It's clear the private sector will have the main delivery role, I would assume taking on the OLR operations at some stage (competitively).
I don't yet get any feeling for size and shape of GBR other than absorbing Network Rail, or maybe the NR operational Regions will be hived off in some way.
Two-year contracts finalised this year will be a tough order, and the 30-year plan will appear next year.
There's no obvious change in the devolved TOCs which remain independent.
And no specific changes posted to the Railways Act (which mandates privatisation) - but maybe that will be in the actual White Paper.

"Driving significant efficiencies" and "changing working practices" will no doubt raise alarm bells in some quarters, but it's not before time.
 
Last edited:

HamworthyGoods

Established Member
Joined
15 Jan 2019
Messages
1,488
"If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

The current privatised system is broken. I can't help but shake the feeling, however, that they're leaving the broken bits alone, and 'fixing' the stuff that already works.

Different people will have differing view on which parts of the wider railway are broken or not.
That can also apply to Network Rail where some bits work well but other bits are also broken - NR’s attempt at electrifying the GWML wasn’t exactly a roaring success for example.
 

JonathanH

Established Member
Joined
29 May 2011
Messages
9,251
The actual White Paper is not yet published, and will probably appear tomorrow when Grant Shapps makes his announcement in the Commons - this is just the press briefing.
It looks as if Shapps is on late morning with his ministerial statement on the Future of Britain’s Railways after Oral Questions to the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Oral Questions to the Attorney general, the Business Statement and Business Questions to the Leader of the House. The House of Commons has a 9.30am start.
 

JaJaWa

Established Member
Joined
14 Feb 2013
Messages
1,375
Location
Asia / Thameslink

Official Government announcements:​


Great British Railways: for the passenger​


New public body Great British Railways to integrate the railways and deliver passenger-focused travel with simpler, modern fares and reliable services.​

Department for Transport
  • Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail to reform Britain’s railways and launch a new era for passengers
  • biggest change in 25 years sees creation of new public body Great British Railways – a single, familiar brand with united, accountable leadership
  • simpler, modern fares delivered, starting with new flexible season tickets on sale from 21 June and a new Great British Railways website for all tickets and clearer compensation
  • reforms support delivery of a financially sustainable railway as country recovers from coronavirus (COVID-19), with new contracts focused on punctuality and improved efficiency, making it easier and cheaper to plan maintenance, renewal and upgrades
A quarter-century of fragmentation on the railways will end as they come under single, accountable national leadership, as the government today (20 May 2021) unveils a new plan for rail that prioritises passengers and freight.

A new public body, Great British Railways (GBR), will integrate the railways, owning the infrastructure, collecting fare revenue, running and planning the network, and setting most fares and timetables.

GBR will simplify the current mass of confusing tickets with new flexible season tickets and a significant roll-out of more convenient Pay As You Go, contactless and digital ticketing on smartphones. A new GBR website will sell tickets and a single compensation system for operators in England will provide a simple system for passengers to access information and apply for refunds.

There will remain a substantial and often greater role for the private sector. GBRwill contract private partners to operate most trains to the timetables and fares it specifies, with a model similar to that used by Transport for London in its successful Overground and Docklands Light Railway services.

The new Passenger Service Contracts will include strong incentives for operators to run high-quality services and increase passenger numbers. They will not be one-size-fits-all: as demand recovers, operators on some routes, particularly long-distance, will have more commercial freedom. Affordable walk-on fares and season ticket prices will be protected.

The Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail, published today, sets out the path towards a truly passenger-focused railway, underpinned by new contracts that prioritise punctual and reliable services, the rapid delivery of a ticketing revolution, with new flexible and convenient tickets and long-term proposals to build a modern, greener and accessible network.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:

I am a great believer in rail, but for too long passengers have not had the level of service they deserve.
By creating Great British Railways and investing in the future of the network, this government will deliver a rail system the country can be proud of.
Grant Shapps and the Mallard.

Grant Shapps Transport Secretary said:

Our railways were born and built to serve this country, to forge stronger connections between our communities and provide people with an affordable, reliable and rapid service. Years of fragmentation, confusion and over-complication have seen that vision fade and passengers failed. That complicated and broken system ends today.
The pandemic has seen the government take unprecedented steps to protect services and jobs. It’s now time to kickstart reforms that give the railways solid and stable foundations for the future, unleashing the competitive, innovative and expert abilities of the private sector, and ensuring passengers come first.
Great British Railways marks a new era in the history of our railways. It will become a single familiar brand with a bold new vision for passengers – of punctual services, simpler tickets and a modern and green railway that meets the needs of the nation.
Keith Williams, Chair of the Williams Review, said:

Our Plan is built around the passenger, with new contracts which prioritise excellent performance and better services, better value fares and creating clear leadership and real accountability when things go wrong.
Our railway history – rich with Victorian pioneers and engineers, steam and coal, industry and ingenuity – demands a bright future. This plan is the path forward, reforming our railways to ensure they work for everyone in this country.
COVID-19 has caused deep, structural challenges to the railway, with use still far below pre-pandemic levels. This strategy re-emphasises our commitment to rail, with tens of billions of pounds invested in more electrification, new and reopened lines and a rail revolution.

GBR will drive significant efficiencies in the railways’ inflated costs, reducing complexity and duplication, increasing flexibility, changing working practices and making it easier and cheaper to invest. Reform is the only way to protect services and jobs in the long term.

In the short and medium term, we will work closely with the sector on measures to encourage passengers back to rail. To reflect changes in the traditional commute and working life, the government has today announced that a new national flexi season ticket will be on sale this summer, with potential savings of hundreds of pounds a year for 2 and 3 day-a-week commuters. Tickets will be on sale on 21 June, ready for use on 28 June.

The new Passenger Service Contracts will also help to build a more financially stable industry. By removing barriers to new market entrants, including by no longer basing competitions on complex and uncertain revenue forecasts, private operators will be challenged to provide a competitive and customer-focused offer, delivering greater value-for-money for the taxpayer.

Local communities will work closely with GBR on designing services with local leaders given greater control over local ticketing, timetables and stations. The new model will encourage innovative bidders, such as community rail partnerships who want to bid for the GBR contract to operate their local branch lines.

The journey to this new passenger-focused model has begun today. New National Rail Contracts will be announced this year. They will be in operation for 2 years and act as a bridge to reform.
Source: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/great-british-railways-for-the-passenger

#TheFutureIsFlexible: new era of rail travel arrives with new flexible season tickets​

New national rail flexible season tickets announced as part of the Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail, the biggest shake-up of rail in a generation.​

Department for Transport
  • 2 and 3 day-a-week commuters given control over their commute and offered potential savings of hundreds of pounds against daily and season tickets
  • government’s plans include a new Great British Railways ticket website and app, a retail revolution with simple digital ticketing, contactless pay-as-you-go travel and straightforward compensation
A new national flexible rail ticket, matching modern working habits and saving passengers hundreds of pounds, will be available to commuters across England once travel restrictions are lifted.

As the government publishes the Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail today (20 May 2021), setting out the path towards a truly passenger-focused railway, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has announced that “the future is flexible”.

The new flexible ticket will be on-sale on 21 June, for use by 28 June.

The paperless tickets will allow travel on any 8 days in a 28-day period, with passengers able to tap smartcards or scan mobiles at the station, with no need to select the days of travel in advance.

The change has the potential to save commuters hundreds of pounds, providing greater choice and flexibility.

Grant Shapps Transport Secretary said:

For many, the idea of travelling 5 days a week to the office is fast becoming a relic of the past.
The future is flexible: passengers want a simple, stress-free option, and new flexible tickets make fares fairer.
As we kickstart the biggest reform of our railways in a generation, we’re committed to creating a modern railway that works for its passengers.
Grant Shapps with a steam train.

Exact details of savings will be provided before tickets go on sale. However, analysis shows that 2 day-a-week commuters buying multiple new flexible season tickets could save the following in a year when compared to the cost of daily tickets:

  • over £250 from Woking to London
  • over £200 from York to Leeds
  • over £60 from Southampton Central to Winchester
  • over £160 from Stafford to Birmingham
  • over £220 from Liverpool to Manchester
Three day-a-week commuters could save:

  • over £220 from St Albans City to London
  • over £120 from Bromsgrove to Birmingham
  • over £90 from Weston-Super-Mare to Bristol Temple Meads
  • over £330 from Chelmsford to Stratford
This new national offer also reflects the long-term decline in the use of traditional season tickets, with a change in working practices having been accelerated by the outbreak of COVID-19.

With the pandemic sweeping away the traditional commute and leading to a significant increase in home-working, this ticket reflects the new priorities of the public.

Flexible season tickets and greater discounts are just one of a package of measures to reform the railways to put passengers first. The government has also announced today it will explore new ‘design and ride’ standards to eradicate ‘ironing-board seating’, and efforts to ensure fewer repetitious and annoying pre-recorded announcements.

See also Great British Railways: for the passenger press notice, 20 May 2021
Source: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/...avel-arrives-with-new-flexible-season-tickets

The Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail published:


Great British Railways
The Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail

Presented to Parliament
by the Secretary of State for Transport by Command of Her Majesty
May 2021

We want our trains to run on time. This is our plan to do that, and to deliver a wider change on our railways that has never been needed more. The chaotic timetable changes three years ago showed all too clearly that the old ways were not working. Then in March 2020, this Review conceived after those problems and the failure of the East Coast franchise, found itself dealing with something far bigger: the almost total collapse of passenger demand initially, and a profound challenge to the sector's operating model as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Before the pandemic, commuters made up 47% of all rail passengers, a further 10% were travelling for business meetings and 5% were shopping. In other words, around two thirds of passengers were using the railways for purposes that now face potentially permanent change.

Much of the old demand will return. Millions of us, imprisoned in front of flickering screens, yearn for human contact. Employers and businesses know that creativity, collaboration, and deal-making are best done in person. Rail freight was heavily impacted at first but has recovered rapidly, demonstrating its agility. But commuting and business travel may never be quite the same again.

This government profoundly believes in the future of the railways. Without them, our cities could not function, critical freight connections would be cut off, carbon emissions and pollution would rise, and mobility would fall – not just for the millions of people without cars, but for drivers too, as the roads became clogged. We have proved our commitment: the amount we have paid to keep services going during the pandemic is now around £12 billion. We have proved it by pressing ahead with High Speed 2 (HS2), improvements across the north of England, the new Oxford-Cambridge line and our programme of reversing the Beeching closures. This white paper makes further commitments, including a modern, improved experience for both freight customers and passengers and zero carbon trains. We are growing the network, not shrinking it.

But the current sums being paid to operate and maintain the railways are not sustainable. To truly secure rail’s future, there must be radical change. The railways lack a guiding focus on customers, coherent leadership and strategic direction. They are too fragmented, too complicated, and too expensive to run. Innovation is diffcult. Incentives are often perverse. Some working practices have not changed in decades. There must be single-minded efforts to get passengers back. In short, we need somebody in charge.

That is why we now propose the biggest change to the railways in 25 years, ending the fragmentation of the past and bringing the network under single national leadership. A new public body, Great British Railways, will own the infrastructure, receive the fare revenue, run and plan the network and set most fares and timetables. Network Rail, the current infrastructure owner, will be absorbed into this new organisation, as will many functions from the Rail Delivery Group and Department for Transport.

There will be a new brand and identity for the whole system, built upon the double arrow, with national and regional sub-identities. Great British Railways will simplify the current confusing mass of tickets, standardising mobile and online ticketing, and bringing an end to the need to queue for paper tickets. Affordable 'turn up and go' fares and capped season tickets will continue to be protected. New products, such as flexible season tickets aimed at those commuting for two or three days a week, will be introduced to reflect new working and travel patterns. Trains will be better co- ordinated with other forms of transport, such as buses and bikes.

Private sector innovation has helped deliver the spectacular growth the railways have seen in the last quarter-century; it is essential that we keep the best of this and encourage more, particularly in IT, data and modern payments. In most cases Great British Railways will contract with private companies to operate trains to the timetable and fares it specifies, in a way similar to that used by Transport for London (TfL) on its successful Overground and bus networks. Operators will compete for the contracts, and we expect competition to be far greater than for the old franchises, with simpler procurement, lower costs and no one-size-fits-all approach. Freight and open access operators will be supported by national co-ordination and new safeguards.

Franchising will be replaced by Passenger Service Contracts, a new approach that will include strong incentives for operators to run safe, high-quality, punctual services, manage costs, attract more passengers and innovate. Where and when it represents value for money and is financially sustainable, operators will have more commercial freedom, particularly on long-distance routes.

Great British Railways, too, must be a new organisation, with a new culture and customer focus, definitely not just a bigger version of Network Rail. Just as with operators, it will be incentivised to improve customer service, maintain a safe network and attract new passengers. It will have a completely new role, with specific responsibilities to its passenger and freight customers and a clear remit to reform the can’t-do culture and inflated costs that exist across the sector. The new body will recruit more broadly than before – including people with experience in sectors with a strong focus on customers. Great British Railways will be accountable to Ministers in a similar way that TfL is to the Mayor of London.

Great British Railways will secure significant efficiencies. Today’s railways are a maze of agreements between hundreds of different parties, drawn up and policed by battalions of lawyers and consultants, including an entire staff dedicated to arguing about who is at fault for each delayed train. Change is slow and comes by painstaking negotiation. In the new world, that cannot work. Under single national leadership, our railways will be more agile: able to react quicker, spot opportunities, make common- sense choices, and use the kind of operational flexibilities normal in most organisations, but difficult or impossible in the current contractual spider’s web.

A simpler, more integrated structure will cut duplication, increase Great British Railways’ purchasing power and economies of scale, and make it easier and cheaper to plan maintenance, renewals and upgrades. These and other efficiencies will take time to bear fruit, but after five years it is expected that they could be saving around £1.5 billion a year, equivalent to 15% of the network’s pre-pandemic fares income.

Great British Railways will be better able to respond quickly to changing demand and lead the railways through the challenges of the post-pandemic world. It seems likely, for instance, that the old pre-9am peaks in demand around our biggest cities will fatten or spread more through the day; and that leisure travel will increase as a share of the whole. Less frequent but longer commutes may become more common. That may mean different service patterns, and changing train interiors to focus on comfort rather than capacity.

It will definitely mean a new focus on the escalations in cost, gold- plating and over-specification that have occurred since privatisation. And it will definitely need a change of mindset from everybody at
all levels, from Ministers, unions and regulators to traincrew and managers. Under this model, the sector will provide fulfilling, high- skilled, flexible and modern career opportunities that attract and support the brightest and the best to flourish, so that the railways’ people also benefit from this new golden era for the railways.

As the Review has been undertaken collaboratively, it has been possible to move quickly to change policy even whilst its work progressed. We have started some of the structural changes already. In September 2020, we called time on franchising. Our Emergency Recovery Measures Agreements, made to support the network in the pandemic, include new obligations to co- operate. Everyone across the whole sector will need to work together to help our railways win back passengers, attract new freight customers and maintain their custom going forward.

In 1825, this country invented something that spread its iron web across the earth and transformed everywhere it touched. It was, of course, the railway. By the time we celebrate the bicentenary, four years from now, we want this plan to have secured our magnificent network for decades more.

The Rt Hon Grant Shapps
Secretary of State for Transport

MP Keith Williams
Chair, Williams Rail Review

Source: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/great-british-railways-williams-shapps-plan-for-rail
 
Last edited:

LNW-GW Joint

Veteran Member
Joined
22 Feb 2011
Messages
16,202
Location
Mold, Clwyd
GBR selling tickets will be interesting.
They'll have to write a new sales engine, or adopt one of the many TOC engines available.
 

ABB125

Established Member
Joined
23 Jul 2016
Messages
2,582
Location
University of Birmingham
Lots of fluffy words and quotes from industry personnel, but little detail at the moment, so I can't really say much until tomorrow. Apart from the fact that the name's rubbish. It's just absolutely rubbish and pompous. Might as well be called "superfluous adjective railways"!

I'm interested in what fares reforms are coming though...
 

ABB125

Established Member
Joined
23 Jul 2016
Messages
2,582
Location
University of Birmingham
The articles also imply that Network Rail as a brand will be expunged. Is this really necessary? I suppose that depends on the details, which will be revealed tomorrow.
 

JonathanH

Established Member
Joined
29 May 2011
Messages
9,251
GBR selling tickets will be interesting.
They'll have to write a new sales engine, or adopt one of the many TOC engines available.
Setting fares rather than selling them I think? Consolidation on only one booking engine would be a bad step, but perhaps the fares will be so simple that only one will be needed, together with the move to more PAYG.
 

ivorytoast28

Member
Joined
10 Dec 2018
Messages
71
Location
Sheffield
Lots of fluffy words and quotes from industry personnel, but little detail at the moment, so I can't really say much until tomorrow. Apart from the fact that the name's rubbish. It's just absolutely rubbish and pompous. Might as well be called "superfluous adjective railways"!

I'm interested in what fares reforms are coming though...
Average Boris trying to "pump up the British spirit" of which 80% of the population sees through and rolls their eyes.

Ultimately, if it makes it simpler for the end user, the passenger, it is welcome but there is very little in those reports as to what it actually means, as private TOC's still will exist, but how much responsibility they have is the true unknown

Setting fares rather than selling them I think? Consolidation on only one booking engine would be a bad step, but perhaps the fares will be so simple that only one will be needed, together with the move to more PAYG.
As much as a move to PAYG sounds great, it can only work with walk up fares, and if anything advance fares seem to be increasing and reducing the cost for many over the years, so wouldn't want to see them disappear
 

JonathanH

Established Member
Joined
29 May 2011
Messages
9,251
As much as a move to PAYG sounds great, it can only work with walk up fares, and if anything advance fares seem to be increasing and reducing the cost for many over the years, so wouldn't want to see them disappear
PAYG is clearly for local / regional travel. Advance purchase fares have certainly reduced the cost for many over the years but that saving has been diminishing of late. If the fare setting power is taken away from the TOCs, there is no need to compete on fares and they can be set at the level that the Treasury wants on all routes. It makes clear sense working towards a future where long-distance travel from London becomes concentrated on HS2.
 

PTtrainguy

Member
Joined
10 May 2021
Messages
11
Location
Wales
What happens to existing NR staff? Got a sneaky suspicion this will be used to undercut the unions and reduce headcount (ala British Gas' recent fire and rehire).
 

JonathanH

Established Member
Joined
29 May 2011
Messages
9,251
Suggests it's also replacing the Trainline... is the Government is buying them out?
They aren't the only company who sells train fares at present.

It reads as if most fares will be set by the central organisation ("setting most fares") with local representation in that process within the metropolitan areas but long distance operators may have some freedom to set their own fares ("particularly long-distance, will have more commercial freedom") at market levels.

With one organisation in control of most fares it will be interesting to see how they manage the removal of today's best value fares, alignment at a single price for those journeys and the public reaction.
 
Last edited:

johntea

Established Member
Joined
29 Dec 2010
Messages
2,035
I wonder if Mr Portillo will have to rename his 'Great British Railway Journeys' programme :D
 

DazrahT

Member
Joined
29 Oct 2010
Messages
27
Best news I've heard in my 22 years on the railway. Now maybe I'll get my free travel back that I had to hand back when I moved from Central Trains to Railtrack (and then NR)
 
Status
Not open for further replies.

Top