Government plans to speed up process to end the current franchising system


Transport secretary Grant Shapps has confirmed that the government plans to end the rail franchising model used since privatisation in the 1990s.

In its place it will introduce the concession model floated in the Williams Review,

Speaking to the transport select committee yesterday, Shapps said that the government was already planning to move to a “different type of railway”. This process will now be accelerated as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

In March the government brought the railways under government control as a result of Covid-19. These emergency arrangements, which commenced on March 23, aim to protect franchises from plummeting passenger numbers by placing the operator on a fixed fee contract. They are currently due to end in September.

Shapps said that the Williams Review would have been published by now were it not for the pandemic, but current circumstances offered an opportunity to “move things along faster than might have otherwise been the case”.

He confirmed to MPs that the review contained recommendations of moving towards a Transport for London-style concession model with a ‘guiding mind’ to “bring the railway back together”.

“Clearly, what we need to do is get to a situation which gets us to the Williams review,” he added.

“The route between where we are and where we were has been changing and you might say speeded up”.

Get the latest news delivered to your inbox. CLICK HERE to subscribe to our e-newsletter.