Reports in several newspapers which alleged that Great British Railways was being ‘scrapped’ by ministers have been dismissed by an influential rail networking group.
The government had already denied claims that there would be no parliamentary time for the necessary legislation to create the industry’s new ‘guiding mind’ before the next General Election, saying that no decision has yet been made about the forthcoming Parliamentary agenda.
Great British Railways is the core idea in the Williams-Shapps ‘Plan for Rail’, which was published in 2021 during Boris Johnson’s time as Prime Minister, but the plan lost momentum during various upheavals, including more than one change to the Conservative Party leadership.
Even so, a Great British Railways Transition Team of some 300 people led by Network Rail chief executive Andrew Haines is continuing to work on the foundations of the new structure, which is intended to see passenger operating concessions replacing the former franchises and include the infrastructure responsibilities now managed by Network Rail.
The government has also chosen Derby as the headquarters of GBR after a competition which had attracted 42 towns and cities and was narrowed down to a shortlist of six.
In spite of the claims in the press, the Derby-based Rail Forum has told its members in the rail supply chain that it has been testing the truth of the reports.
It said: ‘Some of you may have seen speculation in the national press towards the end of last week suggesting that plans for GBR had been scrapped. Following conversations with DfT on Friday and the GBRTT yesterday we are reassured that nothing has changed and plans are still very much moving forwards. Finding space in the next session of Parliament for legislation will be a challenge but we are assured that this will be brought forward as soon as the timetable allows.’