Smart Transport

New rail business model: Working with GBR

Overhead view of a busy railway station with many lines leading into it

As works start to shape the planned new public body, Great British Railways, what space will there be for innovation outside the nationalised publicly-owned core? Where will private sector entrepreneurs and devolved regional authorities with local agendas fit into the new jigsaw? Paul Clifton reports

No one knows how the private sector or devolved government will fit into the new-shape railway. The recently-created Great British Railways transition team doesn’t know either. It’s a work in progress. Decisions have yet to be taken.

That unnerves regional authorities, train operators and the supply chain. They crave certainty. Without it, they cannot plan or invest. Industry leaders and lobbyists are forming a queue at the door of Network Rail chief executive Andrew Haines, who is charged with establishing GBR to start overseeing rail transport from 2023. They want to make sure of a seat at the table.

They’re worried: the Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail released in May talks about national brands with regional variation. Nobody knows what that means. Not even the people at GBR. Haines was to present options to Government over the summer.

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