The Secretary of State for Transport spoke at the Bradshaw lecture last night to outline plans to modernise the industry. A summary of the key takeaway points is set out below.

Great British Railways (GBR)

  • GBR will be established as an arm’s length body, with the location of its new headquarters announced before Easter.
  • There will be a dedicated Strategic Freight Unit and a rail freight growth target set.
  • The Government will respond to the consultation on GBR’s legislative powers by the summer.
  • The GBR Transition Team will publish its long-term strategy for the rail sector later this year which will set strategic direction.
  • GBR will have 5 regional divisions working in partnership with regional bodies such as the Greater Manchester and the West Midlands Combined Authorities.

The private sector

  • The Secretary of State affirmed the role of the private sector in UK rail.
  • There will not be a “one size fits all” approach to the new Passenger Service Contracts: risk will sit with the party best placed to manage that risk.
  • The Government will look to remove barriers preventing those from entering the market.
  • The Secretary of State supports increasing the number of open access services where it benefits passengers and taxpayers.


  • There will be a move to open data and systems.
  • For ticketing, a more competitive retail market is encouraged, welcoming new players to spur more innovation and give passengers the services they need.
  • There will be a focus on expanding the commercial opportunities around land and property near stations.

More Flexible ticketing trials

  • Pay-As-You-Go ticketing will be extended to an additional 52 stations in the South East.
  • LNER’s single leg pricing trial will be extended.
  • There will be trial demand-based pricing on some LNER services (reflecting practice in the aviation sector).

The Secretary of State acknowledges that there is a desire to move on from diagnosing the issues affecting the sector and to get on with fixing those issues - a sentiment which will be welcomed by many. The pace of reform needs to quicken to ensure an industry structure that puts customers first and is financially sustainable.  We look forward to seeing the Government taking action to implement the reform agenda in the months ahead.