City region transport authorities call for more local control over rail services

Merseyrail train

The Urban Transport Group - the UK's network of city region transport authorities - has today called for the Williams Rail Review to give far greater emphasis to the proven success of the devolution of control over regional and urban rail services by making it a cornerstone of wider railway reform.

Jonathan Bray, Director of the Urban Transport Group, said:

“Where full responsibility for local rail services has been devolved we have seen more investment and better outcomes for passengers and places. This is because devolved authorities and administrations are far more accountable and responsive to the needs of both passengers and communities than officials sitting hundreds of miles away in Whitehall. Devolved authorities and administrations are also much better able to ensure that rail ties in with wider local goals such as meeting housing need, serving new development opportunities, and reducing pollution and carbon emissions.”

He added:

“Although it is encouraging to see in the Rail Delivery Group's latest response to the Rail Review that the rail industry now recognises the benefits that rail devolution can bring, we are disappointed by how little focus there has been on it in the documentation from the Williams team so far. A centralised, one size fits all approach to rail reform makes no sense given the realities of a devolving Great Britain, where one in three rail trips are already made on rail services which are partly or fully the responsibility of devolved authorities or administrations. There is a growing consensus around the benefits that rail devolution can bring and we will be making a strong case that from here on in this is also central to the Rail Review.”