New probe launched into ‘bro­ken’ rail in­dus­try

The Mail on Sunday - - News - By Bren­dan Car­lin

A ‘ROOT and branch’ re­view of Bri­tain’s strug­gling rail in­dus­try will be launched this week, amid claims the en­tire pri­va­tised sys­tem is ‘bro­ken’.

Trans­port Sec­re­tary Chris Grayling will an­nounce the study af­ter months of dis­rup­tion over new timeta­bles and amid strikes over the role of train guards. He is ex­pected to re­veal that John Lewis deputy chair­man Keith Wil­liams will lead the re­view.

In­dus­try in­sid­ers are un­der­stood to be lob­by­ing for a sim­i­lar model to John Lewis, where work­ers are part­ners in the firm. The move comes amid mount­ing anger at the cost and stan­dard of Bri­tain’s rail ser­vices, with Labour say­ing the ‘bro­ken’ sys­tem must be taken back into pub­lic con­trol.

The 12-month re­view will seek to learn lessons from the fail­ure of the East Coast Main­line fran­chise – the third time in a decade it has col­lapsed.

Mr Grayling has also faced calls to re­sign over his han­dling of the dis­rup­tion faced by pas­sen­gers on Thames­link and Great Northern trains this year, fol­low­ing the in­tro­duc­tion of new timeta­bles.

It will also fo­cus on the fu­ture ‘bal­ance of pub­lic and pri­vate sec­tor in­volve­ment’ as Tory Min­is­ters fend off calls for full re­na­tion­al­i­sa­tion.

The Gov­ern­ment in­sists that pri­vati­sa­tion has helped ‘trans­form’ the in­dus­try, dou­bling pas­sen­ger numbers and de­liv­er­ing more ser­vices.

But Shadow Trans­port Sec­re­tary Andy McDon­ald said the cur­rent fran­chised sys­tem was ‘bro­ken be­yond re­pair, adding: ‘No amount of tin­ker­ing will change the fact that rail fran­chis­ing has failed.’

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