The government has announced that the rail franchising model in the UK is going to be changed and the railway reform proposals will be brought forward.
The government has announced that it wants to get rid of the rail franchising system that has been in place since the 1990s. This could take place as soon as 2020 with a new model coming into place that focuses on performance and reliability.
Currently, the railway industry is anticipating the results of the Williams Review with the results becoming apparent once it is published. The aim is to ensure that a prospering economy will reach every inch of the country, ensuring that everyone has access to railway services. As these proposals are brought forward, they will replace the current model whereby private operators have monopolies over rail networks.
These significant changes will enhance reliability and create a railways system that benefits from better connectivity. It will be based on the same model that was in place before privatisation came into effect. There will also be localised decision-making that has a positive effect on the day-to-day running of the rail network.
The independent chair of the Rail Review, Keith Williams, has already received a number of proposals from rail bodies and operators.
Back in July, the ORR called for accessibility and compensation reforms while the Rail Delivery Groups also called for the current franchising model to come to an end. They are in favour of having multiple operators on mass commuter routes whilst also calling for an independent reviewing body.
Many train operators, passenger and industry bodies have claimed that major reform is required while Virgin have also put forward a new model that is based around an airline-style when it comes to fares and franchising.
Following the recommendations from the review, which are expected in the next few weeks, the government is then expected to release a white paper on the reforms.
RMT, the rail union did not respond to the proposal or the Queen’s Speech in a positive way. They have called the proposed changes nothing more than a re-packaging and re-branding of the current failed rail franchising model. They have said that if the railways are privatised then they will no longer be compatible with services that are reliable while lower fares and investment infrastructure will diminish because of the way in which train companies feed on the profits and dividends produced by the system.