Evidence from across the country backs rail devolution


Transport bosses have called for a widespread roll out of rail devolution after research suggests it has provided ‘dramatic increases’ in performance, reliability and passenger satisfaction.

The Rail Devolution Works report by the Urban Transport Group (UTG), argues that further devolution will enable other areas to transform rail services in a way that supports economic and improving the passengers experience.

Ben Still, board lead for rail at the UTG

The report looks in detail at how devolution changed rail services ‘for the better’ in Merseyside, on London Overground, in Scotland and in Tyne and Wear.

The UTG said improvements from the four areas include:

  • In the first year of London Overground, patronage increased by a third and after four years passenger satisfaction was up from 73% to 92%
  • £800m invested in opening five new lines in Scotland – more new lines and stations than in any other part of the UK
  • Merseyrail has the most satisfied passengers of any franchise in England and consistent scores of over 90% satisfaction every year since 2008
  • Tyne & Wear Metro routes carrying 25 times more passengers than comparator heavy rail suburban services in the area

Ben Still, managing director of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and board lead for rail at the UTG, said the research provides a powerful evidence base on extending the benefits of rail devolution more widely.

He said: ‘The Rail Devolution Works report does what it says on the tin, The evidence presented shows that devolution works for passengers and works for the places that devolved railways serve.

‘In all cases, devolution has delivered significant benefits for passengers and communities. Local decision makers have seized the opportunity to improve services which they know are vital to their wider economic, social and environmental priorities.

‘Devolved authorities have also shown that they can effectively manage issues that arise from services that cross administrative borders through collaboration and extending the benefits of investments they make beyond their boundaries.'

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