Great British Railways: What does train network revamp mean for season ticket holders?

20 May 2021, 12:49 | Updated: 20 May 2021, 19:23

Great British Railways will be the biggest revamp of the network since the mid-90s
Great British Railways will be the biggest revamp of the network since the mid-90s. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Grant Shapps today announced the biggest revamp of the UK's rail network since privatisation which will affect timetables, trains and season ticket holders.

The transport secretary revealed on Thursday that a new state-owned body named Great British Railways (GBR) will be set up to provide the country with a more "affordable, reliable and rapid" rail network.

He said the "complicated and broken system" in place today will be replaced by a publicly run service that will be responsible for managing trains, tracks, timetables and stations.

It means that Network Rail will be subsumed into GBR to end the current "blame-game system" between train and track operations when disruption occurs.

However, Mr Shapps stressed that the move is not an attempt to renationalise the UK's railways as it still relies on private companies bidding for contracts that are "all about the passenger".

So what does the rail network overhaul mean for season ticket holders? Are railways being nationalised? And will your train still run on time?

What does the rail network overhaul mean for season ticket holders?

Mr Shapps sought to reassure passengers that train fares will not rise as a result of the rail reforms. But equally, there has been no overall commitment for a reduction in prices.

From next month, regular commuters will have the option of buying flexible season tickets.

This will allow people who are less frequently travelling into the office - following the change in working habits brought on by the coronavirus pandemic - to purchase tickets on certain routes that permit two or three journeys a week.

They will go on sale from 21 June, ready for use seven days later on 28 June (however GBR itself will not be established until 2023).

Great British Railways: State-owned body set up in major overhaul of UK rail network

Commuters have been reassured that rail fares will not go up because of the move
Commuters have been reassured that rail fares will not go up because of the move. Picture: PA

Will my train still run on time?

The government has said that by scrapping the franchise system, operators will be free to focus more closely on improving services and helping trains run on time.

Ministers also hope there will be a smoother link in the management of train and track.

The new concession model will be similar to the one successfully used by Transport for London for its London Overground and Docklands Light Railway networks.

Customers will also have access to more pay as you go, contactless and digital ticketing on smartphones to make payments easier.

Read more: 'Significant moment' as London's Crossrail tests trains on track

The government has said GBR will improve train services
The government has said GBR will improve train services. Picture: PA

Is the UK's rail network being nationalised?

Prior to the announcement, most services were run by private firms awarded franchises by the government.

But once GBR is fully up and running, the state-owned body will mean the government is effectively in control of the UK's rail network.

However, the transport secretary stressed that the move is not an attempt to renationalise the country's railways as it still relies on private companies bidding for contracts that are "all about the passenger".

Therefore, although the government will have more control over the system, the services provided to passengers will be delivered by private firms.

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