THE long-awaited Rail Review commissioned from Keith Williams by the Department for Transport in the autumn of 2018 has gained a new official co-author and title.
The Review has been repeatedly delayed and is now at least 18 months behind schedule, with the Covid-19 pandemic adding to the hold up. It is known that it sets out proposals to replace franchises, although this has already happened because of the pandemic and its effect on railway finances.
It had also been revealed that transport secretary Grant Shapps has been helping to bring the Review up to date to reflect the possible effects of the pandemic on the future railway, and his contribution has now been formally recognised.
Answering a question in the House of Commons on 20 April, transport minister for the environment Rachel Maclean said: ‘The Government is committed to ensuring an efficient, affordable and environmentally friendly public transport system. This is why on 15 March we published a National Bus Strategy which will improve bus services for passengers across England, making them more reliable, environmentally friendly and better co-ordinated with simpler fares. We are also currently preparing the Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail to deliver a more efficient, affordable and greener rail network, and a bold and ambitious Transport Decarbonisation Plan to achieve net zero emissions.’
There is still no date for the Review, now the ‘Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail’, to be published. Answering another question in the same session, rail minister Chris Heaton-Harris responded: ‘The government intends on publishing a White Paper with details of its plans for rail reform soon.’