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Bold new vision revealed for Britain's rail network

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The UK government has revealed plans to expand the country’s rail network with the aim of boosting job creation and economic growth.

The proposals are contained within a policy paper, ‘Connecting people: a strategic vision for rail’ which includes commitments to expand the rail network to boost housing and economic growth and deliver major passenger benefits- including rolling out improved compensation schemes for passengers, reimbursing them when trains are more than 15 minutes late.
The proposals are contained with a policy document entitled 'Connecting people: a strategic vision for rail'
In short, the policy sets out to create a railway fit for the 21st century, with increased passenger capacity, and the introduction of digital technologies to dramatically improve the passenger experience.

But the most significant changes are arguably those that have been proposed for the franchise system:

  • The first of the new generation of long-term regional partnerships on the East Coast Mainline, which will be introduced from 2020- the East Coast Partnership between the public sector and a private partner will be operated by a single management, under a single brand and overseen by a single leader.

  • Rolling out joint teams running day to day operations across the South Eastern network with plans to introduce a new Alliance Director, responsible for a joint team operating the trains and tracks.

  • Introducing a joint team to run the East Midlands franchise following next year’s franchise competition.

  • Introducing smaller train companies, ensuring that every line, station and passenger is central to each train operator’s strategy- this includes splitting up the Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern franchise in 2021, and consulting on a new West of England franchise.
The sweeping changes contained within the policy could see dormant lines brought back into use.
Commenting on this new vision for Britain’s railways, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said:

“The last few years have seen massive growth on Britain’s railways. This industry has reversed decades of decline under British Rail, delivered new investment and new trains, and doubled the number of passengers.”

“But now we need to build on that success by building a new model for the 2020s and beyond, one more able to deal with the huge rise in passenger numbers and the challenges of an increasingly congested network.”

“Rail passengers deserve a more reliable, more efficient service- and I will deliver it by ending the one-size-fits-all approach of franchising and bringing closer together the best of the public and private sector.”

The sweeping changes contained within the policy could see rail services that were lost under the Beeching and British Rail cuts of the 1960s and 1970s brought back into service. 

In-line with this, the government is already planning to reopen the railway line from Oxford to Cambridge. A new development programme will identify new connections and lines that were closed to passengers by British Rail, as part of finding and funding future rail schemes which offer good economic value.

If you’re looking for your next job in rail, register with Fircroft today to be alerted of vacancies as soon as they arise.
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Bold new vision revealed for Britain's rail network - Time to read 3 min
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