Britain’s railway industry has launched a plan for a ‘partnership railway’ that it says will transform services in the next 18 months, while providing almost £85bn of economic benefits in the long term.
In Partnership for Britain’s Prosperity is backed by train companies, Network Rail and industry suppliers, and is described as ‘one railway working in partnership’.
Apprentices show off the document
The plan makes four commitments for change:
1 Strengthen the railway’s contribution to the economy, keeping running costs in the black, freeing up taxpayers’ money
2 Increase customer satisfaction by improving the railway to remain the top-rated major railway in Europe, including a fully operational Ombudsman next year
3 Boost local communities through localised decision making and investment, with supervisory boards or equivalent across all routes by spring 2018
4 Create more jobs, increase diversity and provide our employees with rewarding careers, including 20,000 new apprenticeships in the industry and supply chain by 2020
It also includes research that claims investment of over £50bn between 2014 and 2020 will deliver £82-£84m of economic benefits over the life of the new assets, in addition to an existing figure of £31bn of annual economic benefits at present.
Paul Plummer, chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group (RDG), which represents train operators and Network Rail, described the plan as 'a landmark coming together' that would ‘play its part in ensuring that Britain continues to be an attractive place for skilled workers, innovators and investors as we leave the European Union’.
He said: 'During the next 18 months, customers and communities across the country will begin to see unprecedented improvements in the railway with more trains, better services and improved stations. This promises to create more and better opportunities for our people while enabling improved productivity and economic growth throughout Britain.
'To secure these benefits while enabling further investment, the rail industry must commit to further improvement. This is why train and freight operators, Network Rail and their supply chains, a partnership of the public and private sectors, are working together with a plan for change.'
In recognition of high levels of public scepticism about train services, the RDG said that over the coming months, rail companies would be ‘launching local activity to demonstrate changes for customers, businesses, communities and their people locally, and continuing to engage with local stakeholders about the future of the railway in their area’.
Anthony Smith, chief executive of passenger watchdog Transport Focus, said: ‘Passengers’ priorities are reliable, punctual journeys that offer good value for money. They will welcome plans that will help deliver this for them.’
Mick Cash, general secretary of the RMT union, said the plan had been 'cobbled together' and was 'just the same old fantasy railway plans and promises of jam tomorrow that the public are sick and tired of'.