North Swindon MP Justin Tomlinson is supporting the new rail strategy outlined last week by the Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling.
Recent years have seen the reversal of decades of decline in our railways suffered under nationalisation. The Government is delivering new trains, record levels of investment in Britain’s railways and is keen to build on this success. In order to do this, we have announced a brand new model for the 2020s and beyond.
The strategy aims to deliver a service that is more reliable and more efficient; creating better journeys for passengers across the country. It will do this by:
- Undertaking the biggest rail programme since Victorian times: The Government has recently announced that £48 billion will be spent between 2019 and 2024. Crossrail will carry 200 million passengers in 2019, the Great North Rail Project will deliver room for 40,000 new passengers and the Transpennine route is being upgraded. In addition, the Budget announced a new £1.7 billion Transforming Cities Fund.
- Allowing passenger service operators to manage the tracks their trains run on: South Eastern and East Midlands will feature ‘one team’ working between train operators and Network Rail. A new generation of long-term regional partnerships are being planned with the East Coast Partnership bringing together the operation of track and train under a single leader and unified brand.
- Making changes to the franchising system: With Thameslink services now in operation, the Government is splitting up the Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern franchise in 2021, and consultations will be carried out on a new West of England franchise to ask for ideas to best serve customers.
- Exploring opportunities to restore capacity lost under the Beeching cuts of the 1960s and 1970: The Government is already planning to reopen the railway line from Oxford to Cambridge. It is hoped that this will unlock jobs and encourage house building delivering value for money.
- Improving passenger services: Changes have been made to extend passengers’ rights and the Government have pledged to introduce new technologies which have the potential to reduce crowding and improve train punctuality for passengers.
1.5 million more trains are timetabled today than when railways were under public ownership. Passenger numbers – which fell by a third between 1960 and 1995 – have since doubled.
Justin Tomlinson MP said: “The UK now has one of the safest railways in Europe. Track and train partnerships will mean that one set of people will run the railway. This does not happen at the moment and we need to get away from the centralised Network Rail.”