Mark Harper MP official portrait

UK: Secretary of State for Transport Mark Harper told the House of Commons Transport Committee on December 7 that he was unable to give a timescale for the legislation which will be needed to set up Great British Railways, and having been recently appointed to the role he is taking time to reflect on rail reform.

On October 19, Harper’s predecessor Anne-Marie Trevelyan had told the Committee that the planned major transport bill had been pushed out of the timetable for the 2022-23 parliamentary session. A more limited ‘narrow bill’ was planned to address with simpler issues around the future of transport technology, but Harper said this is also not now expected in the current session.

Commenting after Harper’s appearance at the Committee, John Thomas, Director of Policy at train operator owing group association Rail Partners, said ‘we welcome his commitment to engage and listen to other viewpoints, but action must be taken to end the hiatus on reform and to enable passenger owning groups and freight operators to respond to the needs of their customers. Further delay isn’t in the interests of customers, taxpayers or the industry as a whole.’