UK News

Farewell to CrossCountry and Northern trains as rail reforms transform services UK News

The way British railways are run is to be transformed with the creation of a new public body called Great British Railways to manage the entire network.

Brands such as London North Eastern, CrossCountry and Northern Trains will disappear to be replaced by a single national brand.

Passengers will be able to purchase tickets for any service from a single website.

Great British Railways will oversee infrastructure such as rail tracks as well as rail services, ending a divide that dates back almost 30 years.

Currently, a public body called Network Rail is responsible for the infrastructure, while private companies manage the trains.

But the new system, which will be announced by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps today (Thursday), does not mean the end of privatization. Private companies will continue to operate trains, with Great British Railways awarding the contracts and defining the expected service.

Local leaders, such as mayors and councils, will work with Great British Railways to design service contracts in their area, giving them a say in local ticketing, timetables and stations.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “I am a big fan of rail, but for too long passengers have not had the level of service they deserve.

“By creating Great British Railways and investing in the future of the network, this government will provide a rail system the country can be proud of.”

Grant Shapps, Secretary of Transportation, said: “Our railways were born and built to serve this country, to forge stronger bonds between our communities and to provide people with affordable, reliable and fast service. Years of fragmentation, confusion and undue complication saw this vision fade and the passengers failed. This complicated and broken system ends today.

“The pandemic has seen the government take unprecedented action to protect services and jobs. Now is the time to launch reforms that give railways a solid and stable foundation for the future, unleashing the competitive, innovative and expert capacities of the private sector and securing passengers. come first.

“Great British Railways marks a new era in the history of our railways. It will become a single, familiar brand with a bold new vision for passengers – on-time services, simpler tickets, and a modern, green railway that meets the nation’s needs. “

It comes after the government asked Keith Williams, former CEO of British Airways, to review the structure of the railways in 2018. Today’s proposals are called by the Department of Transport the Williams-Shapps plan for the rail, suggesting that the transport secretary also had a hand in them.

The new system marks a return to a national brand for railways similar to British Rail, which was abolished in 1997. However, the plan does not mean the re-nationalization of the railways, which many Labor MPs have called for. While Great British Railways will act as a guiding spirit to coordinate the entire network, private companies will still be engaged to operate the trains.

New national rail contracts will be announced this year. These initial contracts will be in effect for two years, until the new system is fully operational.

Labor Phantom Transport Secretary Jim McMahon MP, responding to the UK Railways government’s review, said: ‘Almost three years after it went into service, this report raises more questions than it does. answer it.

“With fare hikes, £ 1 billion cuts to the rail network and broken promises to communities across the country, this is yet another example of ministers talking about a good game, with very little substance below.

“A lack of proper detail on flexible tickets and whether that will make travel cheaper for the average commuter makes it unnecessary for millions of people and absolutely fails to meet the scale of the challenge required to encourage people to return to the rail network after the pandemic. “