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Transport Secretary Chris Grayling, has announced the government’s new Strategic vision for rail , developed to guide operational plans and development into the future.
The document sets out a vision for UK railways, including a new way of operating train and track ending the operational divide between them, and changes to the franchising system.
Proposals include commitments to expand the railway network, therefore boosting housing and economic growth, and delivering major passenger benefits – such as an improved compensation schemes.
One of the major shakeups of the vision sees collaboration between track and train teams, making the railways more reliable and providing a more joined up approach to network delivery.
By changing the rail franchise system, the vision aims to devolve infrastructure management to route-based businesses, ensuring the railway is equipped to meet future challenges, whilst also maintaining the railway infrastructure in public ownership.
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.”
On top of the franchise revamp, the vision commits to restoring capacity lost under the Beeching and British Rail cuts of the 1960s and 1970s. New schemes that unlock new housing or economic growth and offer good value for money, will be identified and pursued. One such scheme already approved is the reopening of the Oxford to Cambridge line.
The vision also pledges to introduce digital rail across the country, developing new technologies that have the potential to reduce crowding and improve train punctuality for passengers. This includes funding to develop schemes on the Transpennine Route, on the South East Route and East London Line, and on the Moorgate Branch. It also reinforces the important role for freight on the rail network to support the British economy and environment.
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