20 May 2021
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has announced the Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail. Marking the start of a new era for British railways, the Plan includes the creation of Great British Railways, and promises a ticketing revolution and a greener, more accessible network.
In what is expected to be the largest single operational change to the railway network of Britain in 25 years, the Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail is expected to reform Britain's railways and 'launch a new era for passengers'.
A new public body, Great British Railways, is expected to integrate the railways and 'deliver passenger-focused travel with simpler, modern fares and reliable services'.
A quarter-century of fragmentation on the railways will end as they come under single, accountable national leadership, as the government unveils a new plan for rail. It is hoped that 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.
The Government hopes that GBR will simplify the current mass of confusing tickets with new flexible season tickets starting from June 21, and a roll-out of more convenient 'Pay As You Go', contactless and digital ticketing on smartphones. A new GBR website is expected to sell tickets and a single compensation system for operators in England will provide a system for passengers to access information and apply for refunds.
Keen to stress that 'there will remain a substantial and often greater role for the private sector', the Government has stated that GBR will 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.
Watch the Department for Transport's Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail launch video, here:
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 Transport Secretary added, "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."
For further details on the new public body, visit the Department for Transport website.