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Britain to carry ‘root and department’ overview of rail transport

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain is to launch a significant overview of its much-criticised railways after months of disruption to passengers brought on by strikes, timetable modifications and issues with the franchising system first launched within the 1990s.

FILE PHOTO – Passengers have a look at a Departures display screen at St Pancras International railway station, London, Britain, January 26, 2018. REUTERS/Peter Cziborra

The “root and branch” overview will probably be headed by Keith Williams, a former British Airways chief government and present deputy chairman of the John Lewis Partnership, the transport division introduced on Thursday.

Implementation of any reforms it recommends will begin from 2020.

“The review – the most significant since privatisation – will consider ambitious recommendations for reform to ensure our vital rail system continues to benefit passengers and support a stronger, fairer economy,” Transport Secretary Chris Grayling stated in an announcement.

Williams and his panel will think about all components of the rail trade, from the franchising system and trade buildings, accountability, and worth for cash for passengers and taxpayers.

They will have a look at altering travel and work patterns, the division stated, and can make suggestions to enhance the present franchising mannequin.

Britain’s rail trade was privatised in 1997 beneath the Conservative government of John Major which separated the operating of trains and tracks, however passengers’ teams have lengthy claimed the division promotes buck-passing and inefficiency.

Since privatisation, fares have risen relentlessly and passenger numbers have doubled, resulting in overcrowding and placing extra strain on state-owned Network Rail, the organisation that maintains tracks and upgrades infrastructure.

Services on a number of strains have been additional hit by strikes as unions attempt to shield the function of guards on trains and by chaos brought on by timetable modifications launched by eight franchises in May which led to widespread delays and cancellations.

Also in May, the government was compelled to renationalise the rail route between London and Edinburgh for the third time since 2007 after the personal company over-estimated earnings, reigniting the controversy over who ought to run the railways.

Unions have lengthy known as for the rail system to be re-nationalised however Thursday’s announcement of the overview made no point out of any change to the present franchising system.

“Privatisation has led to a level of growth never seen under nationalisation, and reversed the decline the railways saw under British Rail, where routes and stations were closing,” the division stated in its assertion.

“The government has already taken steps to strengthen future train franchises and improve reliability. However, we want to ensure the rail system continues to deliver benefits in the face of these challenges,” it added.

Reporting by Stephen Addison; Editing by Alistair Smout

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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