UK: Nine recommendations are set out in a review of the Rail North Partnership between the Department for Transport and Transport for the North which manages the Northern and TransPennine Express passenger franchises.
Published on July 19, the review had been commissioned by Leeds City Council Leader Judith Blake and Rail Minister Andrew Jones following the chaotic introduction of the May 2018 timetable.
For the short term, it recommends:
- developing a ‘passenger promise’ setting out the standards that passengers can expect;
- measures to provide greater political oversight of the decision-making process;
- a presumption of maximum transparency;
- developing an integrated plan for the Rail North Partnership, including a jointly-developed communications protocol;
- enhanced resources for the Rail North Partnership.
Looking to the longer term, the report says the government’s Williams Rail Review into the structure of the rail industry should consider:
- whether and how a more effective ‘guiding mind’ can be put in place;
- how Network Rail could have a more explicit and integrated focus on the North;
- whether and how tracks and trains can be more integrated;
- how further devolution of rail responsibilities would operate within the future industry structure.
‘While some stability has been restored since May 2018, rail passengers in the North continue to experience punctuality and reliability below acceptable levels’, said Blake. ‘The rail industry lost sight of the need to put the interests of passengers first and our recommendations will significantly strengthen the voice of passengers and local accountability in the way rail services in the North operate.’
Transport for the North Chief Executive Barry White said ‘we worked hard to bring the North’s leaders together in the wake of the timetable change, striving to give them greater visibility of industry decisions and greater opportunity to have a say on performance and services. There’s been real progress on that front, but there is still far to go. Both the Blake Jones Review and upcoming Williams Review will be pivotal in achieving a “reset” of our railways, with the opportunity for more devolution to the North’s decision makers.’