UK DfT Publishes Draft Rail Reform Bill

The UK’s Department for Transportation (DfT) has published the Draft Rail Reform Bill as part of its vision for the future of the rail sector.

The blueprint includes new proposals that aim to build on private sector innovation to deliver a better service, which will be overseen by Great British Railways (GBR).

Priorities include providing punctual and reliable services, simpler tickets and a modern system that meets the needs of passengers and freight users.

Great British Railways
Great British Railways will ensure passengers and freight benefit from industry expertise through a whole-system approach

A key element of the draft Bill is the creation of Great British Railways (GBR) which will bring together responsibility for rail infrastructure and services to improve accountability, financial security and adaptability.

Under this reform, GBR will be the new franchising authority, contracting with the private sector to deliver passenger services. This is expected to lead to greater choice and connectivity for passengers, such as through opportunities for open-access operators.

Transport Secretary Mark Harper said:

“It’s been nearly 200 years since the birth of the British railways, and with travel patterns having significantly changed over the last few years it is now more important than ever that they keep up with the changing times.

“This draft Bill demonstrates our commitment to reforming the railways - working with industry, we will move towards a more modern and financially secure rail network that delivers for passengers for the next 200 years too.”

The draft Rail Reform Bill will now undergo pre-legislative scrutiny led by the Transport Select Committee.

Once operational, Great British Railways will be headquartered in Derby. It will focus on bringing track and train together by uniting expertise from Network Rail, DfT and the private sector to overcome the current challenges faced by the sector.

In addition, GBR will work to drive the nation’s rail sector forward, with an ambitious target of achieving 75 percent growth by 2050.

The DfT also emphasises that many tangible improvements are already being delivered, such as pay-as-you-go ticketing with tap-in tap-out pilots

Andrew Haines, Great British Railways Transition Team Lead and CEO of Network Rail said:

“Passengers, freight customers and communities are crying out for a simpler, better railway and the publication of the draft Bill is an important step on that journey.

“Bringing track and train together under a guiding mind is by far the best way to improve the service the railway offers, unlock the economic potential of a growing network and reduce the burden on the taxpayer.”

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