Bradshaw Address: What does it really mean for Rail?

On Tuesday 7 February 2023, the Transport Secretary, Rt Hon Mark Harper, laid out his commitment to the rail industry for the first time during the George Bradshaw address. 

As it stands it was a huge night for rail, with the sector desperate for some clarity over what the next steps are in relation to a number of things ranging from the establishment of Great British Railways (GBR) through to where it will be based and visibility of work pipelines. 

But what did the industry get? Well it didn't get any definitive answers.

GBR HQ's location will be announced before Easter. No commitment was given in terms of timescales for the establishment of GBR, it being noted of course that this is outside of the Secretary's control in any event. Further the supply chain seemed to be a notable omission from the discussion of how to drive the sector forward.

All that said, it definitely was not a damp squib.  

Clarity was at least given in relation to the fact that GBR will be established, and the Williams Shapps Review (the Plan for Rail) will progress. The customer, whether that is a business and leisure passenger or freight, are the centre of what the sector does. GBR will not be Network Rail mark 2 nor will it be “fat controller” but rather a “slim controller”, allowing the industry to run itself without the micromanagement we’ve seen in recent years.

All of this has been welcomed by many but what’s needed now is the detail and the all-important timetable. We just hope that this is forthcoming sooner rather than later to give the industry the concrete certainty that it needs.

Britain is yearning for a modern railway that meets the needs of the moment. One reliable enough to be the 7-day-a-week engine for growth businesses expect. Nimble enough for post pandemic travel, whilst allowing more flexibility for freight. And efficient enough when public spending is rightly scrutinised like never before."


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