Liberal Democrats promise to freeze rail fares

The first major manifesto includes a promise to freeze railway fares and simplify the ticketing system.

The Liberal Democrats also say that the party would extend railway electrification ‘significantly’, including freight routes. It would improve stations and accessibility, reopen smaller stations and complete Northern Powerhouse Rail.

Restoring the northern leg of HS2 to Crewe and Manchester is not ruled out. The party says the decision to cancel Phases 2A and 2B will be reviewed, to see if it would provide value for money, including private investment, or if an alternative would be possible.

There is no mention of Great British Railways, at least not by that name. Instead, there would be a new Railway Agency, which would ‘help to join up the industry – from track to train – putting commuters first, holding train companies to account, and bringing in wholesale reform of the broken fare system’.

Contracts for private sector rail operators would continue to exist, but the approach to them would be ‘far more proactive in sanctioning and ultimately sacking train operators if they fail to provide a high-quality public service’.

A national freight strategy would be devised to transfer as many cargoes as possible to rail, aided by the electrification plans, while there would be a target for freight growth.

Other developments would include ‘exploring’ the introduction of an ‘annual railway pass’ and working with local authorities on the development of more tram systems, in cases where these are ‘appropriate solutions’.

All new railways would be electrified ‘as standard', while there would be an international rail strategy for new routes and operators, while also 'permitting other operators to use the Channel Tunnel and HS1'.

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