The UK government has promised to introduce new legislation to “upgrade” the country’s rail network and “improve reliability” for passengers.
A Transport Bill was one of around 40 pieces of legislation to be announced during the Queen’s Speech in Westminster on Tuesday May 10, as Britain’s parliament opened a new session.
The bill will also see the creation of the state-owned Great British Railways agency which will regulate rail services across the country following the government’s decision to end the long-standing franchise system in 2020.
Andy Bagnall, managing director of the Rail Delivery Group, which represents rail operators, said: “This is an important step towards delivering a better rail for customers and the nation as a whole, with Great British Railways with potential to join the railway. .
“For these reforms to be successful, this must be balanced with giving private operators the contractual freedom to focus relentlessly on customers and boldly innovate to meet their needs.”
Bagnall added that private rail operators would continue to work with the government and the Great British Railways transition team to “ensure that these reforms meet the ambition and potential of the Williams-Shapps plan for rail”.
Norman Baker, from the Campaign for Better Transport, also welcomed the bill planned to improve Britain’s rail network, but criticized the lack of any new legislation proposed to improve the ticketing system.
“We are disappointed that there is no mention of legislation to fix the broken ticketing system,” Baker added. “Without comprehensive reform of the entire ticketing system, we cannot hope to have the better and more reliable service promised to passengers.”
Meanwhile, Clive Wratten, CEO of the Business Travel Association, called on the government to look after the country’s transport infrastructure “as a whole”.
“While the BTA welcomes the government’s commitment to the rail industry and levelling, this needs to be addressed as a whole,” he insisted.
“Airports need better connectivity – global Britain needs to be part of the national leveling. Our current infrastructure is not up to par with our post-Brexit place in the world.