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‘Government overinvolvement a major contributing factor to poorer outcomes’ Rail Partners tells main parties as Rail Minister and Shadow Rail Minister address rail industry 

20 February 2024
  • Rail Partners has used its annual George Bradshaw Address to urge the main parties to get the ‘best of both worlds’, from the public and private sectors, to ensure a growing railway 
  • Rail Partners’ chief executive, Andy Bagnall told attendees that currently, government micromanagement of the railway is contributing to poorer outcomes – and that reform is needed to attract passengers back and balance the books 
  • The George Bradshaw Address ‘election special’ took place at One Great George Street, with Huw Merriman MP, Minister of State for Rail and HS2, and Stephen Morgan MP, Shadow Minister of State for Rail, each setting out their party’s plans for the railway ahead of the general election  
  • Ahead of the address Rail Partners launched its ‘Manifesto for Rail’ setting out five key steps the next government must take to allow the railway to succeed. 

Rail Partners this evening (Tuesday 20 February) hosted the annual rail industry event, the George Bradshaw Address, where it called on the main parties to ‘follow the evidence’ backing a public private partnership for the railway, and ‘get on with reform’. 

At the event, which saw both Huw Merriman MP, Minister of State for Rail and HS2, and Stephen Morgan MP, Shadow Minister of State for Rail address more than 200 senior rail industry representatives, the trade body, which represents rail operator owning groups and freight operating companies, warned that government overinvolvement in the railway leads to poorer outcomes. 

Chief executive, Andy Bagnall told the speakers that, ‘without actual legislation to create Great British Railways, the central tenets of the Plan for Rail are in the sidings’ and that ‘we don’t agree that a public monopoly is the best way to fix the industry’. 

The event coincided with the unveiling of the new draft Rail Reform Bill by the Department for Transport, which the trade body has previously said was a useful step forward but not a substitute for introducing legislation to create a new public body to oversee the railway. 

Rail Partners used the annual George Bradshaw Address to highlight that, while welcoming the current government's explicit support for private sector operators, it has been slow to deliver much needed reforms, in spite of a plan to do so. And that the Labour party’s current stated aim to put the railway back under public control goes against the evidence that shows competition leads to better outcomes for passengers and taxpayers both in the UK and across Europe. 

Speaking at the event Andy Bagnall, Chief Executive of Rail Partners, said:

We believe it is possible to get the best of both worlds to deliver for passengers and freight customers – a new public body to oversee the railways so customers know who is in charge, but harnessing the innovation and investment of private sector operators to attract customers, grow revenue to balance the books, and free up money for other national priorities. We also need a stable environment for freight operators, to enable them to grow and help decarbonise supply chains.’ 

Prior to the event, Rail Partners launched its ‘Manifesto for Rail’ setting out a five steps the next government must take to allow the railway to succeed. 

Notes to editors
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