This interim report promises to offer a route and branch re-organisation of UK railways but surprisingly it doesn’t mention the major effect which improved railways can have on tackling the climate change challenge. This is very surprising considering promises coming forward recently from the government to tackle climate change.
It’s disappointing to see that Mr Williams’ interim report assiduously avoids talking about the excessive rail ticket prices we have in the UK, and especially the automatic increases which are applied by the UK government each year to rail fares. The next increase is due in January 2020, and there seems to be no move to halt this unfair system which penalises rail passengers ensuring we have the highest rail fares in Europe!
However, it’s worth taking time to look at this forecast of what will be in the final report later on in the autumn as the changes predicted are potentially quite substantial.
The Williams Rail Review was established in September 2018 to look at the structure of the whole rail industry and the way passenger rail services are delivered. The review will make recommendations for reform that prioritise passengers’ and taxpayers’ interests. The UK Government have promised to publish the review’s findings and recommendations in a ‘white paper’ in a few month time – autumn 2019; with reforms beginning in 2020.
Williams said a fresh structure to run the railways was required, and warned that “simply tinkering at the edges” would not be credible. He added that rail franchising had “had its day”. Giving a wide-ranging progress update at a Northern Powerhouse event in Bradford, Williams also said that “today’s railway is not set up to be flexible, to lead, or adapt to major change.”
To read the report by Rob O’Connor click here
The report promised much (click here to read the full text of Keith Williams’ speech), including ‘value for money’ – let’s hope that means getting rid of the annual automatic fair increase which has made UK railways the most expensive in Europe!
The one environmental measure to take comfort from Mr Williams’s statement is where he says “It must also sustain and enhance opportunities for our important freight industry, moving goods and materials around the country and helping to reduce congestion and pollution on the roads”.