The Transport Secretary Mark Harper says a final decision on Great British Railways (GBR) had not yet been made.
Asked at a hearing of the transport committee whether it was still his intention to set up GBR, he said: “It’s very much my plan to achieve the intention behind that idea, which is to get the railways to have a guiding mind behind them, to have a more integrated position between how the different parts of the industry work.”
The article in the Independent said the transport secretary said he wanted to “take some time” to listen to “alternative viewpoints” about how this aim could be achieved.
When asked by MPs whether his answer meant GBR’s future was “up in the air”, the Independent reports him saying: “I’m taking some time to just reflect on it and to make sure when we move forward that I’m entirely happy with what we’re doing, and I know there are a range of views Parliament and I think it’s important that I take some time to listen and bear those in mind before I make any final decisions.”
In a statement to Rail Business Daily, John Thomas, director of policy at Rail Partners, said: “It is disappointing that the Secretary of State was unable to give a definitive timeline on the creation of Great British Railways. We welcome his commitment to engage and listen to other viewpoints, but action must be taken to end the hiatus on reform and to enable passenger owning groups and freight operators to respond to the needs of their customers. Further delay isn’t in the interests of customers, taxpayers or the industry as a whole.
“An immediate step that can be taken is to provide operators with appropriate commercial freedoms in National Rail Contracts. This could return £1.6 billion to Treasury over two years, helping to plug the hole in industry finances.”
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