End of line for system

Franchising halted in search for new model railway

FirstGroup train, First Group rail services,

Train services will continue to get support

The government has scrapped rail franchising as it seeks a new model for running the network.

Emergency measures, introduced to keep trains operating during the pandemic, have been extended for up to 18 months pending the introduction of a “simpler and more effective structure”.

The Department for Transport has plugged gaps in franchise holders’ revenue since March, at a cost to taxpayers of at least £3.5bn. It says further support will be needed as the pandemic shows no sign of receding quickly.

Although passenger numbers have edged up since lockdown, they are still less than half pre-pandemic levels.

Government support means that trains are still able to run, even with fewer passengers.

Today’s announcement marks the end of rail franchises, which have been in place since the 1990s.

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