Posted 30th March 2022 | 2 Comments

Top industry figures quizzed over GBR progress

The House of Commons Transport Select Committee is questioning three senior industry figures this morning over the progress which is being made to set up Great British Railways. The MPs on the committee will be seeking updates from Network Rail chief executive Andrew Haines, rail minister Wendy Morton and civil servant Conrad Bailey, who is the director general of rail strategy and services at the Department for Transport.

Andrew Haines has been leading the GBR Transition Team since it was formed in the wake of the Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail, which was published as a White Paper last May. It envisages Passenger Service Contracts to replace the former franchises, which were abolished in September 2020. The franchises had already been effectively replaced by temporary Emergency Measures Agreements in March as Covid lockdowns started to reduce railway revenues.

The intention of the Williams-Shapps plan is to create a new ‘guiding mind’ for railways in Britain, which will take over the functions of Network Rail and award and manage Passenger Services Contracts. It will also unify the railways by giving them a single identity, based on the familiar double arrows logo which was introduced by British Rail in 1965.

The Committee session starts at 09.30 this morning.

Reader Comments:

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

  • Steve Alston, Crewewewe.

    Huw and all those on the Select Committee should be patient as a clear, working framework must be created to ensure a precise procedure is established for the err.. lining of pockets.

  • david c smith, Bletchley

    As far as passenger operations are concerned, the same mistake as before, I feel. Passenger services are diverse and cannot be really succesful when we try and run them with a "one size fits all"approach.

    The old BR was thought to be at its best under Sectorisaation, with each sector concentrating on its particular role. Transpose to the 2022 privatised situation, and what seems to me to emerge is possible genuinely ongoing competition (for the passenger, rather than for a fixed franchise), with access to private investment capital, on intercity and long distance service, where accountability can come from this.

    The commuter operations around the cities and conurbations , though, unlike intercity / long distance , are captive market monopolies. As such, each one might best be subject to a direct( within the conurbation) democracy approach to ensure accountability.

    There still are a few "rural" services , which might be best incorporated into Community Rural Partnerships ( a few have already, I believe).*

    To finish , yes subsidies ( and charges) are neccessary to represent "hidden" costs and benefits.Perhaps DfT should concentrate on producing a framework of these, rather than applying "command & control".

    [*I do not know of any rural services which have been incorporated into Community Rail Partnerships, but I believe there is something about that in the Williams-Shapps Rail Plan.--Ed.]