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May 1, 2019

UK’s Rail Delivery Group calls for ending rail franchise system

Rail Delivery Group, the membership body of British train operating companies, has proposed replacing the existing franchising system in a bid to increase accountability and customer focus.

Rail Delivery Group, the membership body of British train operating companies, has proposed replacing the existing franchising system in a bid to increase accountability and customer focus.

The group unveiled its scheme while submitting an array of proposals to the Williams Rail Review, which was established by the UK Government to recommend rail reforms.

Proposals also include establishing an independent body that will be responsible for the whole industry, as well as devising a revised fares system.

With the organising body in charge, the rail companies sought to change the franchise system with a dynamic set of services to suit the requirements of different groups of passengers.

“These proposals call time on short term fixes and set out the once-in-a-generation system upgrade the railway needs.”

The Rail Delivery Group suggests that on some mass-commuter routes there would be democratically accountable single-branded concessions, with a local transport body to supervise the services.

On long-distance routes, multiple operators may compete to ensure more competitive and responsive services to the passengers.

For other routes, where passengers have limited transportation options, franchising would be based on targets and incentives for operating companies instead of specified contracts.

Representing rail companies, Rail Delivery Group chief executive Paul Plummer said: “These proposals call time on short term fixes and set out the once-in-a-generation system upgrade the railway needs if it is to help the country prosper over the next 25 years.

“We want to move forward with a rail system that is more focused on customers, more responsive to local communities and more accountable, letting rail companies deliver what people want in each area of the country and rebuilding trust between the industry and passengers.”

Rail Delivery Group developed these proposals in consultation with passengers, businesses and communities.

Over the next few months, the railway companies will continue to be engaged with industry stakeholders, including customers, to discuss the aspects of maximising benefits of the proposals.

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