Greater Manchester’s Mayor Andy Burnham has come out in support of proposals published today that would give local accountability to the rail network.
The Rail Delivery Group have recommended replacing the current franchising system with TfL-style networks on some mass-commuter routes, more choice and competition for passengers on some long-distance routes, and services running on other routes with tough outcome-based targets and incentives to meet customer needs.
The proposals to the government’s rail review, independently chaired by Keith Williams, are informed by conversations with passengers, businesses and communities across the country and set out the building blocks of a future system.
They would see a new independent organising body put in charge of the industry, acting as the glue that binds it together so that everyone is working to meet the same customer-centric goals. Sitting outside day-to-day politics, the organising body would drive up accountability and standards, helping to end the blame game when things sometimes do go wrong and giving penalties where rail companies fall short.
The new system would be underpinned by an easier to use, better value range of fares, delivered by updating decades old regulations. This could see pay-as-you-go with a price cap introduced on commuter services across the country, giving flexible workers a better deal. It would also enable greater local control over fares in devolved areas and better integration of rail fares with those for other modes of transport.
For long distance routes, updating fares regulations around peak and off-peak travel would mean ticket prices could be set more flexibly, incentivising more people to travel while spreading demand more evenly across the day – potentially reducing overcrowding by up to a third on the busiest services.
With a fully reformed fares system, for the first time passengers would able to benefit from a guarantee that they would pay the best fares for their journey, every time, with no need to split ticket.
Andy Burnham says:
“The time has come for radical change in the way transport is organised in city-regions like Greater Manchester. People here deserve a London-style system which makes public transport more convenient and affordable.
“We urgently need the ability to link train services to Metrolink and buses. That’s why I welcome The Rail Delivery Group’s proposals that would see more powers over our railways devolved to local areas.
“In Greater Manchester, passengers have suffered for far too long – crammed on to clapped out trains that are too often delayed or cancelled. The case for greater local control is clear. I want to see real steps taken towards our commuter services being run locally as ‘Greater Manchester Rail’.”