Posted 25th June 2020 | 2 Comments

Shapps gives green light to National Rail concessions

TRANSPORT SECRETARY Grant Shapps has given the clearest indication yet that the old style train operating franchises will not be revived after the pandemic.

Instead, he told the Commons Transport Committee that concessions will be the way forward, with the DfT or another contract-awarding body collecting the revenue and taking responsibility for investment.

He said the Williams Review would have been published by now had it not been for the pandemic, and that ‘without revealing too much we are already moving to a different type of railway and different types of contracts. With everything that is going on at the minute there is an opportunity to move things along faster than might have otherwise been the case.’

Mr Shapps also confirmed that the new ‘guiding mind’ mentioned by Keith Williams in speeches more than once is also part of the reconstructed industry.

He explained: “The Williams Review will envisage us a railway that is brought back together a lot more, which has a central guiding mind, that you end up not in a situation that the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing.’

The present Emergency Measures Agreements which replaced the franchises with management contracts on 23 March are due to end in September.

Reader Comments:

Views expressed in submitted comments are that of the author, and not necessarily shared by Railnews.

  • Matthew Ellis, Woking

    I suspect this may be a short term approach while the long term impact of Covid becomes clear. Many office based businesses are openly questioning the merits of having large offices - especially those based in the City of London.

    While the rail network does not support just office workers, if you reduce the daily commuters into London by ‘just’ 20% (so on average all staff working from home one day per week) this will have a significant long term impact on how and where transport investment happens.

    As an example, Barclays management have suggested moving their staff out of Canary Wharf and using the numerous partially utilised local branch buildings when staff do need to get together.

    Therefore, now is not the time to commit to any particular model, rather just to keep the network running.

  • david c smith, Bletchley

    Sorry, Mr Shapps, I can't go along with the Concession model applied to the whole national system. "National " operations under even more control / central planning from DfT and parliament ? Sounds like nationalisation to me, with operators having no part in decision making and allied investment . If this is what politicians want, then they should "call a spade a spade".

    There may well be good reason for concessions in services that are natural monopolies on local lines, backed up with local direct democracy. National services, though, are too extensive for direct democratic accountability, and are also capable of giving accountability through commercial competition , which is , I'd have thought, fundamental to the whole concept of a privatised railway.

    If anybody would like to read up on this topic, try looking at the 2016 report , especially Option 4, from the Competition and Markets Authoriity , on competition in passenger rail - another report that was quietly ignored.

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