The Future of UK Rail: A consumer-led railway recovery – Roundtable 1
*This is an invitation only event*
There is no doubt, the rail industry is in crisis. The Covid-19 pandemic has dramatically impacted the UK rail network with revenue falling by 95 per cent in 2020 and passenger numbers falling to a record low of four per cent capacity. It seems doubtful that people above the age of 30-35 are going to return to the rail network in the future and it is expected that the public are going to need to subsidise the network to a cost of £150 million per week. With the end of franchising as we know it, it is clear that there needs to be a radical rethink of policy in respect of the immediate and long-term future for the UK rail network.
Chaired by former Transport Minister, Stephen Hammond MP, this series of virtual roundtables will bring the private and public sectors together to explore a critical part of the UK’s infrastructure in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic. This inquiry will be focus upon four key areas: a consumer-led recovery, the decarbonisation agenda, how to create an efficient railway and how to make greater use of technology. In partnership with Trainline.com, this set of virtual roundtables is designed to turn the coalition’s evidence into actionable insights.
Session one ‘A consumer-led railway recovery’ is designed to explore how the UK rail network can recover from the impact of Covid-19 using consumer-led approaches in order to create a system that keeps customers at its core. Given the end of widely unpopular franchising with high government subsidy to keep the network moving, the questions surrounding the creation of a publicly owned rail network need to be answered. For rail operators, whilst this will require a structural shift in the model they subscribe to, it is also an opportunity to ensure that any changes reflect the needs of consumers. By setting out a clear model and strategic aims, the recovery of the rail network can be consumer-driven, ensuring that any improvements to services are made with passengers in mind.