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Wales will have to sign up to ‘consistent branding’ of new Great British Railways body, UK Government says

20 May 2021 3 minutes Read
Transport for Wales train. Picture by Jeremy Segrott (CC BY 2.0).

Wales will have to support one national network, one website and app, and include the UK Government’s chosen branding as a new Great British Railways body takes over the rail network, the UK Government has said.

The Welsh Government has previously called for the devolution of rail infrastructure to Wales, arguing that the UK Government has been guilty of “historic and continuing under-investment” in Wales’ rail tracks.

But the UK Government has announced a new body, Great British Railways, will take over responsibility for both tracks and trains in 2023, with UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps saying it will place the railways under a “single, accountable national leadership”.

According to the plan, Wales will have to “work together in partnership with Great British Railways” and this “includes supporting a single national network, including one website and app and delivering consistent branding and passenger standards, such as on accessibility and compensation.”

“Great British Railways will continue to own the infrastructure in Scotland and Wales (other than some of the South Wales Valley Lines), as Network Rail does now,” the UK Government adds.

“A joint working agreement between Transport for Wales and Great British Railways will be explored to improve the rail offer for passengers and freight customers in the connected network between Wales, the West Midlands and the West of England. This agreement would need to be negotiated between the UK and Welsh governments, building on existing Wales and Borders agreements for rail services.”

‘Consistency’

However, the plan also suggests that Transport for Wales will be able to continue to exist, at least for the time being.

“Existing devolved authorities in Scotland, Wales, London, Merseyside, and Tyne and Wear will continue to exercise their current powers and to be democratically accountable for them,” it says. “They will continue to award contracts and set fares on their services, for instance.

“Co-operation with a single national organisation will strengthen devolved railways by helping improve consistency in the passenger experience across the network, maintain common principles and standards and improve joint working on issues such as managing specialist or scarce technology and skills.

“Existing leases of stations to devolved transport authorities will continue and there will be opportunities to develop these relationships in the future.”

The Scottish Government have already responded to say that there is a lack of clarity about how the plans will impact Scotland, that they were not consulted, and that the move is contrary to their call for more devolution of rail in Scotland.

“There is no mention of Scotland in these details, and it is not clear how these proposals will respect the established and successful devolved responsibility for railways in Scotland,” the Scottish Government said.

“The white paper will affect Scotland’s Railway [ScotRail and Network Rail Scotland], yet the Scottish Government has not been consulted on what is now published.

“We have made these points strongly and repeatedly to the UK Government, which has chosen to ignore the views of Scottish ministers who fund Scotland’s Railway.”

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Steve Thomas
23 days ago

Nicola standing up for Scotland, Drakeford accepting it without a murmur-says it all really

Greggers
Greggers
23 days ago
Reply to  Steve Thomas

Nicola cares about Nicola don’t be fooled that she gives a flying fig about anyone else because she doesn’t!

Mandi A
Mandi A
23 days ago
Reply to  Greggers

Extremely unfair, you wouldn’t say that if she was a bloke.

Roger
Roger
22 days ago
Reply to  Greggers

That’s political prejudice talking. I know the woman and it’s not true. Your first hand experience is…?

Mark
Mark
21 days ago
Reply to  Steve Thomas

Have you seen the disaster that is tfw? This is the reason Ken skates got the boot

Geraint
Geraint
23 days ago

Just because you put a flag on it won’t make it great as the EU saw after the referendum.
There has been serious underinvestment in the rail network for decades and we have a service that has been creaking and just about working.
A poor system with a Union Jack will still be a poor system. But on the bright side it will be a gift for the cartoonists. I wonder what Boris the Boiler engine will look like?

Roger
Roger
22 days ago
Reply to  Geraint

The “Great” in Great Britain refers to its size, not its status. I somehow feel that Boris and Co. weren’t concerned with that fact when they came up with the jingoistic nonsense of “Great British Railways”
Just “British Railways” will do fine, thank you.

Carl
Carl
23 days ago

“Single, accountable national leadership” Yet another example of being dictated to by Westminster. An institution that doesn’t understand other nations’ cultures or possibly does not even want to recognise Wales or Scotland as countries. I thought the flag was called the Union Flag? To be a union, it must consist of more than one country. Let Wales and Scotland fly their banners indicating their identity. Westminster’s intentions seem to be one country to rule them all; I believe J.R.R. Tolkien wrote a trilogy warning about this kind of behaviour. It would appear that the English government is living in a… Read more »

Last edited 23 days ago by Carl
Ceri Almrott
Ceri Almrott
22 days ago
Reply to  Carl

I’d love to know more

Suns ine De se ts
Suns ine De se ts
23 days ago

Sounds remarkably like British Rail. What could possibly go wrong?

Michael
Michael
23 days ago

I wondered whether it was to be read GREAT British Railways (in the Trump sense) or Great-British Railways (geographical). Looks like the latter – whither Scotrail and Wales? Or wither Scotland and Wales.?

Ric
Ric
23 days ago

Reason is simple. Private companies no longer wished to bid for a franchise due to poor financial return and high risk. Their (Govt.) simple answer; offer private company fixed return and take risk into public ownership. Commercial gymnastics and smoke and mirrors are not going to alter the fact that this is a public utility that should be fully re-nationalised. And of course, why waste a good crisis….use it to promote your one union agenda at the same time.

Wrexhamian
Wrexhamian
23 days ago

First skirmish in the constitutional battle that’s going to be waged between Westminster and Holyrood/Cardiff Bay over the next five years. Step up, First Minister, do a Sturgeon on them.

Steve Duggan
Steve Duggan
23 days ago

Everything Westminster does these days seems to attack devolution in some way, or another – damn fools, don’t they realise they’re breaking up the UK – perhaps they do after all it always seems to be England first.

Roger
Roger
22 days ago
Reply to  Steve Duggan

Indeed. If they wanted to break up the UK they couldn’t be doing a better job of it.

Mandi A
Mandi A
23 days ago

On 7th January 2020, this piece went through the Guardian live feed during the early discussions on the EU Withdrawal Bill. On the same day, I wrote to Virginia Crosbie as the MP for our island asking for clarification. As the Press Association reports, a briefing (pdf) by the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe) says new powers in devolved policy areas will be handed to Scottish ministers under Boris Johnson’s EU (withdrawal agreement) bill to ensure it is properly implemented. But the powers will also be conferred on UK ministers, allowing them to act “alone or jointly with Scottish ministers”, according to… Read more »

Mark
Mark
21 days ago

Tfw have been a disaster, the real reason Ken skates got ditched! Nearly three years in and how many new trains? They are throwing money at consultants and have already had to bail out their supplier, Amey. Devolution to a national rail network made no sense and the delivery has confirmed that.

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