Rail industry in no-man's land as GBR 'shelved'


Plans for a new body to oversee the rail sector are in disarray following reports that the legislation to establish Great British Railways (GBR) will not be given time in what is likely to be the final session of Parliament before a general election.

The Times reported that plans for the creation of GBR, put forward by former prime minister Boris Johnson, have been watered down by No 10.

Officials at the Department for Transport (DfT) working on the new body have reportedly been told it is not a priority for the Government and will not be brought forward in the King’s Speech.

The paper quoted a course as saying: ‘Those working on it have been told it’s now unlikely to get a legislative slot. Without it they won’t be able to fully create the body, as it requires primary legislation.’

It added that there is a battle between the DfT and Downing Street over the creation of GBR, with transport ministers pushing for it to be given parliamentary time but pushback from Rishi Sunak, the current prime minister.

The DfT denied that the work of GBR's Transition Team (GBRTT) is being wound down and said it was pressing ahead to bring track and train together and build GBRTT’s capabilities. It pointed out that in March Derby was confirmed as the Headquarters for GBR.

A spokesperson said: ‘The Government remains fully committed to reforming our railways and will introduce legislation as soon as parliamentary time allows, having already taken numerous steps towards reform.’

Campaign for Better Transport said it has written to Mr Sunak urging him to bring forward the legislation to create Great British Railways.

Director of external affairs Norman Baker said: ‘Passengers deserve a railway that works, with fair fares, and ticketing that makes sense. That's what the Government promised to deliver through Great British Railways, but the process has been dragging on for two years already, leaving the industry and passengers in a no man's land.

‘This is a simple bill which the prime minister can and should introduce quickly to get our railways on track, bringing certainty to the industry and relief to long-suffering passengers.’

The Railway Industry Association said it welcomed Number 10’s re-commitment to rail reform, and its confirmation that no decision has yet been made on legislation for the fourth session of this Parliament.

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