The transition team responsible for creating Great British Railways, the new public body that will run and plan the rail network, has taken its first steps towards providing clear, long-term plans for transforming the railways with the launch of an eight week call for evidence to support a 30-year whole industry strategic plan - and a better, simpler railway.
Announced two months ago by transport secretary Grant Shapps to pave the way for the transition to the future of rail, the Great British Railways Transition Team (GBRTT) will be asking stakeholders to provide their views on how rail can contribute to five strategic objectives set by government.
The rail and transport industry and beyond, including business leaders, innovators, technologists, home builders, entrepreneurs and environmentalists have all been invited to take part in shaping what ministers are describing as a first-of-its-kind future strategy for rail.
Backed by the innovation and enterprise of the private sector, the call for evidence on the strategic plan will ask how the rail industry can play a part in boosting the economy, providing access to new jobs and opportunities and making the railways a keystone in the UK’s plans to build back better and greener.
By setting out those five objectives – meeting customers’ needs, delivering financial sustainability, contributing to long-term economic growth, levelling up & connectivity and delivering environmental sustainability – ministers claim the call for evidence will help to play an instrumental role in setting the rail system map for the future and helping create a simpler, better railway for everyone in Britain.
Andrew Haines, leader of the Great British Railways Transition Team, said: “The Whole Industry Strategic Plan will help determine the future of the railway and we want it to be informed by as many different perspectives as possible, to learn from the lessons of the past and to meet the challenges of the future. 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. Together, we will create a simpler, better railway for everyone in Britain.”
Transport secretary Grant Shapps said: “From dealing with the challenges of coronavirus to the decarbonising the sector – the rail landscape as we know it is changing and we need to ensure our railways are able to keep up with the demands of modern life. I have tasked Great British Railways Transition Team to work with industry partners and beyond to create a 30-year plan that will ensure the railway develops to support our national priorities, whilst building on the reforms of the Williams-Shapps reform offering passengers a better deal and taxpayers better value for money.”
The Railway Industry Association (RIA) has welcomed the call for evidence. RIA chief executive Darren Caplan said: “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. 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.”
The call for evidence is now open here and will run until 4 February 2022.