Posted 21st April 2021 | 5 Comments

Williams rail review quietly renamed by DfT

THE long-awaited Rail Review commissioned from Keith Williams by the Department for Transport in the autumn of 2018 has gained a new official co-author and title.

The Review has been repeatedly delayed and is now at least 18 months behind schedule, with the Covid-19 pandemic adding to the hold up. It is known that it sets out proposals to replace franchises, although this has already happened because of the pandemic and its effect on railway finances.

It had also been revealed that transport secretary Grant Shapps has been helping to bring the Review up to date to reflect the possible effects of the pandemic on the future railway, and his contribution has now been formally recognised.

Answering a question in the House of Commons on 20 April, transport minister for the environment Rachel Maclean said: ‘The Government is committed to ensuring an efficient, affordable and environmentally friendly public transport system. This is why on 15 March we published a National Bus Strategy which will improve bus services for passengers across England, making them more reliable, environmentally friendly and better co-ordinated with simpler fares. We are also currently preparing the Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail to deliver a more efficient, affordable and greener rail network, and a bold and ambitious Transport Decarbonisation Plan to achieve net zero emissions.’

There is still no date for the Review, now the ‘Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail’, to be published. Answering another question in the same session, rail minister Chris Heaton-Harris responded: ‘The government intends on publishing a White Paper with details of its plans for rail reform soon.’

Reader Comments:

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

  • JasonLeahy, london

    I keep reading about the delay to the Williams review but what has happened to the Steve Berry's review into light rail which public consultation ended 19 th May 2019 ?

  • david c smith, Bletchley

    As regards service on the passenger railway, our ( my wife and I) experience has been of a substantial improvement in the longer distance services since 1994, up until the recent crises. As one prominent , pro-nationalisatian commentator has written , more than once, what we actually have been given is an example of "pretend privatisation".

  • Dr Roger Pierce, York

    What innovations have occurred since privatisation which would not have happened under BR. InterCity was highly innovative and provided a much better service to passengers than the new sub-airline private services.

  • Neil Palmer, Waterloo

    The Fat Controller lives !

  • david c smith, Bletchley

    Oh dear, oh dear - looks like we might end up with a passenger ( not freight too, I hope) railway where all the important decisions are made by central government , thus turning its back on the main justifications for privatiisation - innovation, enterprise,adaptability and investment capital. Nationalisation in all but name.

    Franchising and concessions are fine wherever there are captive market, natural monopolies, but allow those services where effective competition can operate, to run commercially, like our internal flights and road coaches do. Government subsidies and charges can still be issued , in order to bring "hidden" costs and benefits into the passenger market.