Britain’s Railways - Statement

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 6:20 pm on 24th May 2021.

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Photo of Baroness Vere of Norbiton Baroness Vere of Norbiton Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport) 6:20 pm, 24th May 2021

Those were some very interesting observations from the noble Lord, who is clearly well versed in the railways. He is right that we need to make sure that Ministers’ responsibilities are separate from those of Great British Railways, which is why we are proposing strong levers to hold them to account, but will not meddle in the day-to-day running of the organisation. So there will be statutory powers and the ability to issue binding guidance in specific areas, which will be important.

The noble Lord mentioned planning, and I have already pointed out that there will be five-year business plans within the 30-year strategy. He also mentioned freight, which is a very important part of this. It is often a forgotten area of the railways, and we believe that it will benefit from the national co-ordination that Great British Railways will bring. His last point was on data, which is one of the key areas where we feel that we can improve customer satisfaction. Historically, data has been held by the train operating companies and not shared as well as it should have been. By putting all this data and responsibility for revenues within Great British Railways, we will necessarily bring together all the data. We believe that from that we will not only simplify tickets but think of better ways to use that data to provide more value-for-money services for passengers.