Rail franchising ‘ended’ by government to make way for ‘more effective’ system

A Greater Anglia train at London's Liverpool Street Station. Picture: GREATER ANGLIA

A Greater Anglia train at London's Liverpool Street Station. Picture: GREATER ANGLIA - Credit: Archant

Rail franchising has effectively been ended - after measures to keep trains running during the Covid-19 crisis were extended by the Department for Transport (DfT).

The changes were confirmed by the DfT, with operators such as Greater Anglia moving to “transitional contracts” while the government develops a “simpler and more effective structure” over the coming months.

While welcoming the changes as a positive move, Derek Monnery of the Essex Rail Users Forum said work still needs to be done to bring down ticket fares.

He said: “The rail franchise was doomed. It was really not fit for purpose.

“It’s renationalising the rail companies in all but name.

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“Essentially the government will be controlling and the private firms are doing what they are told to do.

“It won’t make any difference to the fares. I can’t see anything changing until you get a new government come in who changes to a more green policy which would encourage people to use the trains.”

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The DfT said the move was the “first step” to bringing together the “fragmented system” which is currently in place.  

Transport secretary Grant Shapps said: “The model of privatisation adopted 25 years ago has seen significant rises in passenger numbers, but this pandemic has proven that it is no longer working.

“Our new deal for rail demands more for passengers. It will simplify people’s journeys, ending the uncertainty and confusion about whether you are using the right ticket or the right train company.

“Passengers will have reliable, safe services on a network totally built around them. It is time to get Britain back on track.”

Tan Dhesi, Labour’s shadow rail minister, welcomed the extension of emergency funding but claimed it was “completely unacceptable” that taxpayers will continue to pay “hundreds of millions of pounds” in management fees to private companies.

He added: “These agreements paper over the cracks of a broken rail system. It’s time to put passengers before profit and bring our rail franchises back into full public ownership.”

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