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Britain’s railways need radical overhaul to end ‘nightmare journeys’, report claims | UK News



Britain’s railways need a radical overhaul to end “nightmare journeys”, according to a new report.

Scrapping franchising, major reform on fares and handing more control of services to city regions are among recommendations made by the Campaign for Better Transport (CBT).

The pressure group also calls for the creation of a publicly-funded body to manage all aspects of rail planning.

Its report – the Future of Rail – was published ahead of an average 2.7% increase in rail fares which comes into effect on Thursday.

The Department for Transport (DfT) is expected to publish a white paper based on the review’s recommendations in the next few weeks.

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Britain’s railways undergo major timetable change

Darren Shirley, CBT chief executive said passengers have “suffered unreliable, expensive, overcrowded trains for too long” and urged the government to “seize its chance to put an end to nightmare rail journeys”.

He added that the railways must “change fundamentally” to help deliver potential “huge” economic, social and environmental benefits.

Most rail services in Britain are operated under fixed-term franchises, which involve the DfT setting out standards for service levels, upgrades and performance.

Companies then submit bids to run the franchises, with the DfT picking which are successful.

The CBT has called for this system to be replaced by several models which satisfy different needs of passengers and communities across the network.

Rail fares to increase 2.7% in the New Year

Under its proposals, smaller packages of slots would be auctioned on intercity routes to trigger competition, while private sector operators outside London would be given incentives to promote integrated transport and economic growth, rather than focus solely on costs and revenue.

It also calls for a major shake up of fares to encourage initiatives like a single national railcard, part-time season tickets and more pay as you go options.

A DfT spokesman said: “The government will shortly bring forward reforms from the Williams Review, the first root and branch review of the rail industry in a generation.

“These reforms will put passengers first, end the complicated franchising model and simplify fares to create a fairer, more effective system.”

Paul Plummer, chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group, speaking on behalf of train operators, said the industry has long been calling for the “bold reform of the railway” recommended by the CBT.

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