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RAILWAYS SHAKE UP: Major plans announced for rail reform

RAILWAYS SHAKE UP: Major plans announced for rail reform

Published on 20-05-21


Nationwide grassroots movement has welcomed government plans to make railways more inclusive and responsive to local communities following the announcement of the Great British Railways.

A national organisation that represents more than 1,000 local voluntary groups and 74 ‘community rail partnerships’ – working locally to engage communities with their railways – has warmly welcomed government plans to reinvigorate rail.

The Department for Transport’s publication of the Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail signals the beginning of rail reform, including commitments to:

  • Replace franchising with a new structure, new overarching public body and new contractual arrangements, aiming for greater reliability, coherence and accountability, and always putting passengers and communities at the forefront
  • Put the railways at the heart of a clean, green transport system
  • Ensure railways are inclusive, accessible, and responsive to local community needs and views
  • Bring in simpler and more flexible ticketing
  • Continue to invest in and develop railways, recognising their importance to local communities and creating a more sustainable transport future.

It is expected that the community rail movement will play a crucial role in supporting delivery of these plans and advising rail partners and government on local travel needs and opportunities for rail development.

Jools Townsend, chief executive of Community Rail Network, said: “We warmly welcome the commitments set out by the government for reforming and reinvigorating our railways – aiming to make these vital sustainable transport arteries even more productive and valuable to the communities they serve. We’ll be working hard to help communities engage with and feed into this process of change, ensuring local voices are heard and needs understood.

“Community rail is a thriving grassroots movement spanning Great Britain, working with the rail industry to deliver positive local impact. Our members are dedicated to engaging communities with their railways and stations, and enabling everyone to access and benefit from the sustainable mobility that rail offers.

“Through this work, it’s plain to see how important our railways are to community life – but they have an even greater role to play going forward, as we look to rebuild from the pandemic, and shift onto greener forms of transport.

“The community rail movement looks forward to working with local authorities, rail and transport partners, and the wider community sector, to ensure rail is firmly at the heart of a sustainable and inclusive transport future, which everyone can benefit from.”

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