Great British Railways launches wide-ranging consultation

Pendolino and 88 crossing at speed (Jon Veitch) 960

The transition team responsible for creating Great British Railways, the new public body that will run and plan the rail network in the UK, has launched an eight week call for evidence to support its 30-year, Whole Industry Strategic Plan (WISP). This plan was already announced two months ago by Grant Shapps, the Secretary of State for Transport. GBR will replace the franchise system that runs much of the current passenger network, and take on much of the infrastructure management currently in the hands of Network Rail.

The consultation process gives the freight sector an initial opportunity to provide views on how rail can contribute to the strategic objectives set by government. The call for evidence on the Strategic Plan will ask how the rail industry can play a part in boosting the UK economy, and how it can provide access to new jobs and opportunities. The consultation remains open until 4 February 2022.

A wide range of organisations and experts

As set out in the Whole Industry Strategic Plan, the consultation asks for opinions on the five objectives already set out by the government: meeting customers’ needs; delivering financial sustainability; contributing to long-term economic growth; delivering environmental sustainability; and connectivity and levelling up [the economic prosperity of the south with the economic potential of the north].

“The Whole Industry Strategic Plan will help determine the future of the railway”, said Andrew Haines, the leader of the Great British Railways Transition Team – featured in the video above. “We hope a wide range of organisations and experts, both inside and outside the rail industry, will respond to our call for evidence, to help us all make the most out of this opportunity to create a railway that truly delivers for all that use, service and depend on it.”

Long-term certainty for business

The consultation process has been broadly welcomed by the rail industry. “It is positive to see the call for evidence now launched for a ‘Whole Industry Strategic Plan’, ahead of the restructure of UK rail to Great British Railways”, said Darren Caplan, Chief Executive of the Railway Industry Association (RIA). “A plan that provides long-term certainty for businesses in rail will be vital in the coming years, to ensure the sector can deliver efficiently and effectively. RIA and our members look forward to working with the new GBR Transition Team to develop the plan in the months ahead.”

Expertise from across the rail and transport industry is being invited to submit evidence. The consultation also welcomes opinion from outside the industries. The UK government say they want to ensure this first-of-its-kind strategy will receive contributions from as wide a range of stakeholders as possible. The call for evidence is now open at Great British Railways and will run until 4 February 2022.

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Author: Simon Walton

Simon Walton is RailFreight's UK correspondent.

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