Return to integrated network

Rail services across UK to follow Scotland’s alliance

Phil VersterEngland’s rail system is to follow the Scottish model by bringing the train operators and Network Rail closer together.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling will announce today that he wants each rail franchise to be run by a joint management team, similar to the ScotRail Alliance and South West Rail.

The new system will be introduced as each franchise is renewed.

Mr Grayling believes that teamwork is the key to improving performance and helping to resolve customer complaints.

He said: “We need to change the relationship between the tracks and the trains on the railway. In my experience passengers don’t understand the division between the two.

“They just want someone to be in charge. They want their train to work. I agree with them.”

The first to make the change will be the South Eastern and East Midlands franchises in 2018.

Rail observers will note that the change represents a partial return to a united system which operated as British Rail between 1947 and 1993 when the network was privatised by John Major’s government.

England’s adoption of the ScotRail Alliance model was first predicted by Daily Business in February 

This model was introduced when Phil Verster (pictured) was installed as managing director of both ScotRail and the alliance with Network Rail.

It was followed a similar, but more limited, arrangement between South West Trains and Network Rail on the Wessex Route out of London Waterloo. The Scottish version is a more integrated operation.

Mr Verster told Daily Business in an interview at the time: “In Scotland we have decided to work together on everything together. We have one mission. It is massively powerful for us.”

The benefits of the alliance were shown in the rapid redevelopment of the Winchburgh tunnel near Linlithgow, he said.

Ironically, the alliance has not led to a reduction in complaints with ScotRail coming under intense pressure in recent weeks to resolve problems of late and overcrowded trains, breakdowns and poor communication with customers.

ScotRail and the Scottish Transport Minister Humza Yousaf say investment in the system will tackle many of the ongoing issues and that the work under way is partially responsible for the disruption to services.

Photo by Terry Murden



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