BREAKING: Transport Bill deferred

Transport Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan says the Transport Bill which would enable the creation of Great British Railways will not now happen in the current session of Parliament.

She was speaking at the Transport Committee hearing on 19 October. Asked by Transport Committee Chair Huw Merriman whether the Transport Bill was likely to be seen in the current session of Parliament. ‘A big Transport Bill, no. The challenges of the energy legislation we’ve got to bring in and various other pieces have meant we’ve lost the opportunity to have that in this third session.

‘What we are continuing to pitch for is what I’d call a narrow Bill around the future of transport technologies… the legislation around things like e-scooters… quite a broad range of regulatory changes we need to bring in.

‘The bigger piece around rail transformation we’ll need to look at in the fourth session. What we’re looking at at the moment is whether looking across that whole piece of rail transformation there are a number of parts of it that don’t actually require primary legislation. So how can we intelligently use the time we’ve got until we get into the second half of next year to actually start implementing those areas of transformation we can do.

She said one of Rail Minister Kevin Foster’s areas of focus was to think about where ‘we can give the industry the confidence and support of the DfT’s direction of travel.’

Chris Loder asked whether it was Ms Trevelyan’s intention to fully implement the Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail. Ms Trevelyan said she was fully committed to implementing ‘modernisation’, but that it was unlikely the full plan would be implemented by early 2024.

Permanent Secretary Bernadette Kelly said establishment of GBR would require permanent legislation, as would transfer of franchising powers from the DfT.

Ms Trevelyan said areas such as enabling private investment in other aspects of transport was a higher priority than delivering change on the railway in response to a question asked by Chris Loder.

Mr Loder also suggested the current model was not working, and asked how she will approach passenger operations – ‘will it be more of what we have today or something quite different?’

‘I only see this as a few months’ delay, but we are all agreed the way the franchise model works at the moment is not delivering what it needs to,’ said Ms Trevelyan.

Ms Trevelyan also said she had committed to a full consultation on ticket office closures proposed in a deal offered to rail workers.

• See the November issue of Modern Railways, out on 27 November, for more analysis on what the future for Great British Railways might hold.