Review could propose the end to walk-up fares on peak services

Leaked documents obtained by the Independent on Sunday suggest that Sir Roy McNulty’s review of the rail industry has concluded that wide-ranging reforms are needed to Britain’s railways.

In a presentation by the former chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority to senior industry figures last month, McNulty suggested that the rail industry needed to make savings of around 35% in order for costs to match those found in Europe.

The document also suggests that train operators could be allowed to slash staffing on trains and in ticket offices while changing terms and conditions, especially for drivers, will reduce costs significantly.

The report is also likely to recommend that ministers launch a comprehensive fares review, with the aim of “removing or allowing more flexibility in relation to caps on fares”.

This could see walk-up fares banned with only season ticket holders or those with a seat reservation able to travel on the busiest services.

A Rail Delivery Group of industry stakeholders will also be set up to examine where costs can be cut and train operators will be incentivised with longer franchises and greater freedoms.

McNulty also believes that poor relationships with rail unions, the unwieldy structure of Network Rail and too much interference from government remain barriers to greater economic efficiency for the industry as a while.

However, McNulty’s plans if true could lead to significant union opposition. Bob Crow, general-secretary of the RMT, has vowed to “fight this attack on jobs, safety and service quality every step of the way”