The Government will launch an ‘independent’ review of the railways this week, but looks set to rule out renationalisation, according to reports.
Update: On Thursday (20 September) it was confirmed that the review will be led by Keith Williams, deputy chairman of retail chain John Lewis.
Mr Williams (pictured) is a former chief executive of British Airways and is an independent non-executive director of Transport for London.
The paper reported that the review will focus on the ‘balance of public and private sector involvement, in the future and how to restore faith in privatisation, adding that it is It is designed to see off calls for the railways to be re-nationalised.
A spokesperson for the Department for Transport (DfT) declined to comment on the ‘speculation’. The DfT has previously stated that it is ‘always examining ways to improve how the railway serves passengers’.
Last week the chair of the Commons Transport Committee called for fundamental reform of the railways after her committee found that ministers and the franchise holders shared the blame for the East Coast mainline debacle.
Paul Plummer, CEO of the Rail Delivery Group, which describes itself as representing ‘the public and private partnership that forms the rail industry’, said the the committee’s recommendations ‘should be looked at as part of an independent review of the whole sector that leads to root and branch reform of how rail services are delivered for the benefit of customers and taxpayers’.
In a newspaper article, Mr Plummer said the expected review should be independently led, adding: ‘Anything less risks the perception of a politically motivated fudge that fails to deliver the best outcome both for our customers and for the nation.’
The RDG argued that the review ‘needs to start by looking at how best to organise the railway to enable greater investment and innovation’ before considering how to achieve the right balance between the public and private sector.