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Britain vows “root and branch” review of rail transport system

Britain vows “root and branch” review of rail transport system

Britain vows “root and branch” review of rail transport system
September 20
21:54 2018

The British government has finally bowed to pressures for reforms in its much-criticized rail transport system as authorities prepare to launch a major review into how issues like franchising, time-table changes and strikes have affected passengers and unions.

The UK Department for Transport announced on Thursday that Keith Williams, a former British Airways chief executive, will head the “root and branch” review of the railways to come up with ideas for reforms in the rail transpiration system.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said in a statement that the review will be the most significant since privatization in the 1990s, adding that reforms that would be recommended by Williams and his panel will start from 2020.

The review will consider issues like industry structures, accountability, and value for money for passengers and taxpayers. However, the most pressing of all issues for the panel to study would be the franchising system which many say has caused problems in the industry since it was introduced in 1997 under the Conservative government of former prime minister John Major.

Unions have for long called for a re-nationalization of the rail system although the government statement on the review made no mention of the issue.  The transportation department said that train franchising had helped the rail way industry grow over the years.

“Privatization has led to a level of growth never seen under nationalization, and reversed the decline the railways saw under British Rail, where routes and stations were closing,” said the statement, adding, “The government has already taken steps to strengthen future train franchises and improve reliability.”

Passengers and unions also want a dismantling of the separated administration of trains and the tracks in Britain, which they say promotes buck-passing and inefficiency.

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