In a speech delivered yesterday, Paul Plummer, chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group said the nation will witness ‘unprecedented improvements in the railway.’
Delivering his speech to mark the launch of ‘In Partnership for Britain’s Prosperity’, a single plan for Britain’s railway, Plummer said there’d be more trains, better services and improved stations during the next 18 months.
The ‘single plan’ involves train and freight operators, Network Rail and their supply chains working together to improve the UK’s rail network and a four-point plan has been drawn up to deliver what Plummer describes as ‘once-in-a-generation opportunity’ to make improvements that will broadly unlock the economic benefits of rail and deliver improved services.
To do this, four commitments to change have been pledged, which state:
Commitment 1 – Strengthen the railway’s contribution to the economy, keeping running costs in the black, freeing up taxpayers’ money;
Commitment 2 – Increase customer satisfaction by improving the railway to remain the top-rated major railway in Europe;
Commitment 3 – Boost local communities through localised decision making and investment;
Commitment 4 – Create more jobs, increase diversity and provide employees with rewarding careers.
The public’s desire for an improved railway recently came to light in Ipsos MORI research that found rail infrastructure, particularly new tracks and stations, among the general public’s top priorities for infrastructure investment. The poll found that 46 per cent of Britons chose tracks and stations from a list of priorities for investment, beating housing supply (43 per cent) and flood defences (38 per cent).
The railway re-boot has been met with derision by transport union the RMT, whose general secretary Mick Cash said: “”This is just the same old fantasy railway plans and promises of jam tomorrow that the public are sick and tired of.
“This so-called plan for the future has been put together by the very same people who have wrecked Britain’s railways since privatisation, condemning passengers to pay the highest fares in Europe to travel on rammed out and unreliable trains in the name of profit.
“The only national plan that would enable us to build for our future transport needs would be to kick out the private racketeers who are robbing us blind and bring the entire rail network under public ownership and public control. ”
Is Cash right in asserting that railways should be re-nationalised, or should Plummer et al be given the chance to show that disparate players can work together in delivering a 21st Century rail network? Let us know bu taking our Poll. Results will be published on November 7, 2017.