Radical plans to shake up the rail system have been given a cautious welcome by transport planning consultancy and Thames Tap partner, mode.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced the shake up on Thursday, May 20. It includes the formation of a new governing body, Great British Railways and flexible ticket arrangements but the private sector will still have a substantial role.

mode director Laura Fitzgerald said: “The lockdown and pandemic has forced the rail industry to adapt and quickly, like many other industries. The immediate decline in passenger numbers and a future of reduced commuter numbers has forced the Government to act now and the Williams-Shapps Report provides an overview of what is being proposed.

“I expect the last year has seen many people in the wider Thames Valley save a fortune on rail travel.

“The days of spending almost £5,000 per year for the pleasure standing on a packed train into London five days per week are looking increasingly like a thing of the past for most employees.

“With this in mind, the news of a flexible ticketing system and one that embraces digitisation coming forward, will be welcome news considering the inconvenience and complexity of purchasing isolated tickets daily, adding to overall daily commute times at the moment.

“In terms of the wider strategy, I think we’d all appreciate a longer-term view on service and delivery but realistically this will all take years to come to fruition.

“For the moment, we will need to hope the new franchisees (South Western Railway being one) will continue to improve the service on offer (and with less strikes) and acknowledge that the complex process of running the railway is evolving.”

Image: mattbuck (category), CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

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