Chris Grayling, Secretary of State for Transport has today announced a major review of the whole rail industry. Whilst this won’t come as a surprise to many of us it is yet another review following several previous studies in recent years.

The review – described as the most significant since privatisation – will consider ‘ambitious recommendations for reform’ to ensure that the rail system  continues to benefit passengers and supports a stronger, fairer economy.

The review will be led by independent chair Keith Williams, the former British Airways chief executive and deputy chairman of John Lewis. It will build on the government’s franchising strategy – bringing track and train closer together to reduce disruption and improve accountability. It will consider regional partnerships and how innovation can be used to improve services and value for money for passengers.

Keith Williams will be supported by an external panel and will report next year. The Government will publish a white paper on the review’s recommendations, with the implementation of reforms planned to start from 2020.

The panel will consider all parts of the rail industry, from the current franchising system and industry structures, accountability, and value for money for passengers and taxpayers.

The review will be of significant importance to Rail Forum Midlands members. It has the potential to radically change the structure of our industry with significant opportunities to ensure greater collaboration and involvement with local and SME suppliers. It also has the potential to delay the current franchising timetable, some infrastructure projects and decision making across the industry. Rail Forum Midlands will be supporting the review and we will be consulting with our members over the coming months to provide formal feedback to the panel as appropriate.

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