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Four out of five want a single organisation to run train services

By John Corser | Transport | Published:

New figures show that 61 per cent of people in the West Midlands want their community to have a greater say in how local rail services are run.

A survey carried out by Populus on behalf of the Rail Delivery Group has looked at how people think train services need to change.

It comes as the Government carries out an independently chaired review into the future of Britain’s railway to ensure that it is set up best to help Britain succeed in the decades ahead.

In the West Midlands, 68 per cent think there needs to be once-in-a-generation reform of the railway to help the country succeed in the decades ahead and 67 per cent want more competition on the long-distance rail routes serving the West Midlands.

Also 87 per cent want to see new contracts for train services that target companies to deliver what’s best for passengers, instead of today’s tightly specified agreements with government.

Some 79 per cent think that there should be a single organisation to oversee and have ultimate responsibility for the railway, with the same percentage wanting to see politics taken out of the day-to-day running,

The figures are published as rail industry leaders prepare to visit Birmingham next week to hear from local businesses, politicians and passenger groups about how the area’s railway could be run in future to best meet the needs of customers, communities and the local economy.

Earlier this spring, the rail industry put forward radical proposals for change to the government’s on-going review into the future structure of the railway.

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The Rail Delivery Group proposals for a new partnership railway include introducing Transport for London-style single-branded concessions on some mass-commuter routes, where an integrated transport body is given more devolved control and rail companies are better integrated to deliver services for passengers.

On long-distance routes, where appropriate, multiple operators would compete for passengers’ business, making services far more responsive to their needs.

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On other routes, in place of today’s tightly specified inputs-based contracts, there would be tough targets and incentives for train companies to deliver the outcomes customers want.

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The RDG also wants to see easier, better value fares, enabled by root and branch reform of the regulations that underpin the rail fares system and which date back to the 1990s.

It also proposes a new independent organising body be put in charge of the industry, acting as the glue that binds it together so that everyone is working to meet the same customer-centric goals.

Having set out the building blocks of a new system, rail companies are consulting with passenger groups, business groups and local and regional bodies on how the benefits of their proposals could be maximised in different parts of the country.

Robert Nisbet, director of nations and regions at the Rail Delivery Group, which represents train companies and Network Rail, said: “Both train companies and the people of the West Midlands want an end to short-term fixes and believe that radical change is needed for rail to deliver for the region in the decades ahead. The opportunity for the railway to get a generational system upgrade in the Williams Review cannot be missed.

“The rail industry knows we must listen to the people we serve. Having set out the building blocks for a New Partnership Railway, we want to hear the views of local people about how those blocks can best be arranged to deliver maximum benefits for West Midlands.”

Maria Machancoses, Midlands Connect director, said: “The Government already recognises the unprecedented level of collaboration in the Midlands, and is listening not only to our plans for radically upgrading intercity services through the Midlands Rail Hub, but the vision of the West Midlands Rail Executive to transform commuter services as well. As a region, we must continue to work together to secure a better transport deal for the Midlands.

“We welcome any reform of the railway which gives regions a greater say over how their networks are run and puts passengers and businesses first. We need long-term reform that future proofs services for the next century, not just the next five or 10 years.

"Sub-national transport bodies like Midlands Connect have a vital role to play in this process as part of the Williams Review.”

The Rail Delivery Group brings together the companies that run Britain’s railway into a single team with one goal – to deliver a better railway.

All passenger and freight rail companies are members of the RDG, as well as Network Rail and HS2.

John Corser

By John Corser
Business Reporter - @JohnCorser_Star

Express & Star Business Editor at head office, Wolverhampton. Welcomes all news of companies and business organisations.

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