Under the Williams-Shapps review, passenger franchises will be replaced by Transport for London-style concessions known as Passenger Service Contracts, which are expected to include incentives for operators to increase passenger numbers. However, while many are expected to be tightly specified, some operators – on long-distance routes, for example – will be given greater flexibility to change fares. The government says that ‘affordable’ walk-on and season ticket prices will be protected.
New National Rail Contracts will be announced this year: they will be in operation for two years and act as a ‘bridge’ to reform. Although there is no specific timescale for the full restructuring to take place, effectively, Network Rail takes over GBR meaning that no legislation will be needed in the short term.
There will be national co-ordination for freight, which is expected to offer greater flexibility and responsiveness, while delivery of enhancements and reopenings is also expected to be speeded up.