All-Party Parliamentary Rail Group

The era of the passenger

At last week’s meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Rail Group, the transport minister, Stephen Hammond, looked back to the birth of the railways in the UK while updating the group on the DfT’s plans for future rail development. If we have seen the “era of engineering”, the minister suggested, then this must be the “era of the passenger”. Freshwater Public Affairs’ Andy Williams explores what might be expected from this new era, and what it means for the ever growing passenger population in the UK.

 

Infrastructure Development

Mr Hammond stated his belief that the development of major infrastructure projects such as Crossrail, HS2 and the Northern Hub will have a seismic impact on rail which will bring considerable benefits for the whole of the country. He told the APPG that rail policy must not be viewed only through the perspective of travel times, and that improving connectivity and capacity are equally as important. For this reason, he argued, HS2 is something that the UK simply cannot afford not to build. 

 

Value for Money

The minister was clear that reducing cost on the UK’s railways was a major priority for his department. While he argued that excellent work had already been done to make Network Rail a leaner and more efficient organisation, and to make cost savings in the refranchising model, the minister admitted that there is much more that can be done to deliver a world class railway at the lowest possible cost.

 

Transparency

While the Brown Review showed that the current system of awarding franchises to private companies is the best way forward, Mr Hammond’s view is that passengers are still not convinced that the system is delivering the best possible returns. He argued that this could be improved with further transparency in the awards process, and through more innovation in franchising agreements, particularly in terms of ticketing systems and station facilities.

Time will tell how successful this Government will be bringing about “the era of the passenger” on the railways. If ministers in the DfT are able to ensure that the needs of railway users are held in high esteem, then their aspiration is one that has a good chance of being realised.


Freshwater’s Public Affairs division provides specialist political communications and intelligence for a client base across the transport, planning and infrastructure, and energy sectors. Whether you need campaign advice, crisis communications support, stakeholder engagement guidance or are interested in registering for our daily and weekly parliamentary and media monitoring reports, feel free to contact us on 0207 067 1595.


Search

Contact us

0800 111 4732hello@freshwater-uk.com

Impact Report 2017

Impact report 2017