Could Williams Review sideline Network Rail?


Ahead of the publication of its major report into the national rail network, the chair of the Williams Review has given a idea of what the public can expect - and it could involve sidelining government and Network Rail.

Former British Airways boss Keith Williams, was appointed by the Department for Transport (DfT) to provide a state of the nation review of rail after the major government failure of the timetable chaos last year, rising fares and increasingly overcrowded trains.

The Government has thrown a great deal of weight behind the review in terms of improving the railways.

However in an early indication of the possible outcomes of the review, Mr Williams confirmed his opinion that government involvement should be limited to overall policy and budget decisions and the DfT should not manage the system.

Currently Network Rail, a public company managing the rail infrastructure, is in charge of the delivery of five-year 'control period' for funding and projects set by the DfT.

Mr Williams told the BBC there should be a "Fat Controller" type figure [a reference to the Thomas the Tank Engine character] independent from government who is in charge of day-to-day operations.

According the BBC, Mr Williams said Network Rail should not take on an overall managerial role.

However he is still to decide on what relationship the rail figurehead would have with government.

'Someone needs to be accountable to the public for the services that they receive and that needs to be at a national level but we also recognise that the role of the regions needs to be emphasised because maybe what has been lacking in the past is regional input to the national system.'

At an industry meeting, Keith Williams added: 'I want to see the creation of a thoroughly modern, 21st century service provider. A railway that is run in the public's interest, delivering for passengers, supporting local economies, embracing innovation and new business models to improve journey experience.

'To achieve this vision, I believe reform should be focused on five key areas: a new passenger offer, simplified fares and ticketing...a new industry structure...commercial model...and a range of proposals on leadership, skills diversity.'

Mr Williams, who has already stated that the current franchise system should not last, is understood to be considering longer, more outcomes-based relationships with rail providers.

The rail review is also likely to call for an overhaul of the complicated, fragmented rail ticketing system, which has not been reformed since the mid-90s.

He appears to be likely to call for a liberalisation of the market to support new entrants selling tickets and developing a more of a pay-as-you-go approach.

However unions have raised concerns that Mr Williams has ignored the issue of nationalisation, which has been growing in public support in recent years. and now commands a majority in the polls.

Darren Shirley, chief executive of Campaign for Better Transport, said: 'The Williams Rail Review is edging toward some sensible reforms of ticketing, franchising and network planning. While we look forward to discussing the detail of these proposals, passengers and wider society urgently need a railway which delivers reliable, affordable and environmentally sound transport to communities across the country.

'The Government must commit to delivering on Williams' recommendations with a new Railways Act, regardless of who is Prime Minister or any other changes we see in the coming weeks.'

Register now for full access

Register just once to get unrestricted, real-time coverage of the issues and challenges facing UK transport and highways engineers.

Full website content includes the latest news, exclusive commentary from leading industry figures and detailed topical analysis of the highways, transportation, environment and place-shaping sectors. Use the link below to register your details for full, free access.

Already a registered? Login

comments powered by Disqus
highways jobs

Key Route Network Manager

Liverpool City Region
£63,753 - £71,747
An exciting new opportunity has arisen within the Integrated Transport Directorate of the LCR Combined Authority Liverpool, Merseyside
Recuriter: Liverpool City Region

Medium/Heavy Vehicle Mechanic - January 2020

North West Leicestershire District Council
You could earn up to £28,785 + 0.75 hours per week plain time overtime
Tasks will include preparation for DVSA annual examination, servicing, general and defect generated repairs, fault finding including diagnostic tests. Coalville, Leicestershire
Recuriter: North West Leicestershire District Council

Senior Engineer (Co-ordinator) - 2 jobs

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
£22,462 - £29,636 + £2000 Market Rate Supplement
The role is in the Highway Network Management & Co-ordination (HNMC) Team, which is part of Operational Services. Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recuriter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Surface Water Engineer

Essex County Council
£30001.0 - £35350 per annum
At Essex County Council, we're passionate about helping deliver economic growth, the best starts in life and the chance to age well for people in the England, Essex, Chelmsford
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Highways Operations Manager

Swindon Borough Council
Salary up to £41,494 p.a.
In this key role, you will plan, organise, co-ordinate and control the workforce Swindon, Wiltshire
Recuriter: Swindon Borough Council

Director Neighbourhood & Enforcement

Telford & Wrekin Council
Cicra 89k
Telford and Wrekin is a great place to live, work, visit and do business. Telford, Shropshire
Recuriter: Telford & Wrekin Council

Senior Engineer (Highways Maintenance Design)

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
£22,462 - £29,636
Are you looking for an opportunity to work as a Senior Engineer, whilst still being able to develop your career and have a good work-life balance? Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recuriter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Highways Projects Engineer

Cambridgeshire County Council
£33,153 - £35,755
Looking for strong team players interested in working with a variety of professional and community partners across Cambridgeshire and... Cambridgeshire
Recuriter: Cambridgeshire County Council

Senior Heating Engineer

London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth
Up to £48,692 per annum
Looking for a Senior Heating Engineer who will work as part of one of the small professional teams. London (Greater)
Recuriter: London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth

Lead Practitioner (Infrastructure)

Newark & Sherwood District Council
£33,799 to £35,934 per annum
Newark and Sherwood is looking to recruit to its newly created post of Lead Practitioner for Infrastructure. Newark, Nottinghamshire
Recuriter: Newark & Sherwood District Council

Senior Parking Manager

Brent Council
£55,638 - £58,779 p.a. inc.
As Senior Parking Manager, you will be responsible for the effective management of the Council’s Parking Services contract Brentford (City/Town), London (Greater)
Recuriter: Brent Council

Highways Inspector

Hackney London Borough Council
£28,752 - £32,577
We are seeking an experienced Highways Inspector to join the Highways Team. Hackney, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Hackney London Borough Council

School Crossing Patrol

Brent Council
£21,591 - £22,377 p.a. inc. pro rata. (£11.50 per hour)
A school crossing patrol officer is responsible for assisting children to cross the road safely on their way to and from school. Brent, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Brent Council

Assistant Director - Environment

Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council
£82k per annum
Our Assistant Director – Environment will ensure clean, safe and attractive communities. Redcar, North Yorkshire
Recuriter: Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council

Traffic Engineering Team Leader

Telford & Wrekin Council
£39,782 - £42,683
This is an exciting opportunity to join Telford & Wrekin Council’s Network Management Team Telford, Shropshire
Recuriter: Telford & Wrekin Council

Street Lighting Client Officer

Enfield London Borough Council
£37,842 – £40,728
As a Street Lighting Client Officer, you will assist the Streetlighting Client Manager in managing the Council’s Street lighting Service Provider Enfield (City/Town), London (Greater)
Recuriter: Enfield London Borough Council

Partnership Director (Fixed Term for 2 years)

£79,165 - £83,020
An exciting opportunity has arisen for the post of Partnership Director for the Tayside & Central Scotland Transport Partnership (Tactran). Perth, Perth and Kinross
Recuriter: Tactran

Service Director Planning, Transportation and Highways

Wakefield Council
To lead on behalf of the Council on all planning, transportation and highways matters Wakefield, West Yorkshire
Recuriter: Wakefield Council

Road Safety and Sustainable Transport Assistant

Telford & Wrekin Council
SCP 13-17 - £11.41 - £12.35
Exciting opportunity to join Telford & Wrekin Council’s Highways, Transport & Engineering, Road Safety & Sustainable Transport Team. Telford, Shropshire
Recuriter: Telford & Wrekin Council