Unlocking the rail devolution opportunity

Northern Rail train and bridge
  • Time for more local control over local rail services

In its response to the Government’s consultation on the potential for rail decentralisation, pteg has called on the Government to seize the opportunity that rail devolution offers for better rail services in the North and Midlands. It calls on Government to work proactively with PTEs, and other local transport authorities, to build on the demonstrable success of rail devolution in Merseyside and in London.

Chair of pteg, Geoff Inskip, said:

‘More local control over local rail services - instead of remote control from Whitehall - will make those services more responsive to local need and passengers’ views. It can also open the way to better integration with tram and bus, and ultimately for London-style, smart and simple ticketing across all forms of big city public transport networks. Rail devolution is working right now on Merseyrail Electrics and London Overground. Routes that were near the bottom of the table for passenger satisfaction are now nearer the top. We now want to work with the Government to extend the benefits of devolution to rail passengers right across the Metropolitan areas and beyond.’

Key points from the consultation response include:

  • True devolution means going beyond the ‘re-badging’ of the powers that PTEs currently or previously enjoyed (such as being co-signatory to rail franchises and having increment/decrement powers over existing rail services)
  • Rail devolution will only work on the basis of a fair deal on costs and risks
  • Achieving true devolution will require the DfT to work proactively with PTEs and other local transport authorities to resolve any challenges
  • Unlocking long-term efficiencies will require up-front investment (in particular on rolling stock in the North)

Geoff Inskip added:

‘Today sees the culmination of a great deal of work across the PTEs to outline how they see devolution working in practice in their areas. We look forward to working with Government and other key stakeholders on taking these proposals forward as part of the re-franchising of local rail networks.’


For more contact Jonathan Bray on 07818 041 485 / 0113 251 7445.