The government has launched a comprehensive review of the UK rail industry, with reforms planned to be implemented in 2020. The plan is being dubbed across the railways as The Williams Review.

The Department of Transport is promising the “most significant” review “since privatisation” and will be chaired by former British Airways boss, Keith Williams, and supported by an external panel of experts.

The Williams Review

The Williams Review will see the independent panel  working alongside passenger representatives, businesses and devolved bodies to advance Chris Grayling’s vision of “bringing track and trains closer together” – meaning that private operators will be able to shape and invest in rail infrastructure in the future.

They will also be looking at other parts of the sector, including:

  • Current industry structures;
  • Accountability;
  • Value for money;
  • The fares system;
  • Industrial relations;
  • Current siloed working;
  • Changing travel and work patterns.

The rail industry welcomes the independent Williams Review and “stands ready to put everything on the tablet” with the Rail Delivery Group stating:

“It’s time for bold reform of Britain’s railways”

Undeniably, progress is already being seen. The Digital Railway is helping companies throughout the rail industry acknowledge the role technology is – and should be – playing in rail safety, infrastructure maintenance and passenger satisfaction. What’s more, infrastructure projects such as HS2, Crossrail and indeed, Northern Powerhouse Rail further highlight the work being done to ensure connectivity and capacity is unlocked for the entire country.

However, as the welcomed Williams Review will reveal, many challenges still remain and enabling the rail industry to have a serious and frank discussion on what is truly needed to improve the railways and ensure sustainability for generations to come, will enable the rail industry to facilitate a renewed environment of transparency, to guarantee that passengers know exactly where investment is being made, and how it will benefit them. As the Rail Delivery Group states in their response to today’s announcement:

“Change doesn’t worry us. Working together, we’ve been improving the railways for almost 25 years.”

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