UK: The government has dropped plans to create a centralised Great British Railways online rail ticket retailer, the Department for Transport has confirmed.

The proposals were originally outlined by the in May 2021 as part of the Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail white paper.

However, on December 14 DfT said train operators would continue to sell tickets online alongside existing third-party retailers.

DfT is now focusing on opening up railway data and systems and lowering the barriers to entry for independent retailers. It said the private sector ‘plays an important role in driving innovation and attracting more customers to the railway’.

Commenting on the change of plan, the Independent Rail Retailers industry group said ‘whilst we support competition, there has to be a level playing field for all retailers, and this is especially important if train operators are to continue selling tickets online.’

IRR said it welcomed the government’s ‘renewed support for independent retailers’ and its commitment to open up the market.

‘Our members’ focus is on making it simpler, easier and cheaper to buy a ticket’, said IRR. ‘Encouraging new, innovative companies into rail retailing can only help to improve customer focus and the passenger experience.’