Theresa Villiers, Minister for Transport, explains how the government has pledged to put rail at the heart of its transport strategy.
Rail Franchising Consultation
Date filmed: 28 September 2010
Narrator: The government has pledged to put rail at the heart of its transport strategy. To ensure that future rail franchises deliver improved services to passengers, better value for taxpayer money, and create the right conditions for a sustainable rail industry, the Department for Transport would like to hear from you via its rail franchising consultation, as Theresa Villiers, Minister for Transport, explains.
Theresa Villiers, Minister of State for Transport: As a coalition, we’ve made it clear that rail is a really key part of our transport strategy. That includes, of course, the high-profile projects like high-speed rail, but it also, crucially, involves doing the best we can to get our current railways working well so that we can do the best we can for passengers, and reforming franchising we think can play a really important part in that. The document discusses ways in which we can give the professionals who run our railways more flexibility to innovate, to provide the best solutions for passengers. I’m really interested to hear your views about how you’d like that to work in practice, your views about the current franchising system and what we could do to improve it, and you’ll see that one of the key reforms we’re proposing to make is longer franchises, and again, it would be great to get your input on how we could get the maximum benefit from that, and in particular we’re looking at ways to incentivise private sector investment in our railways and our stations, because the concern is that if a franchise is only 6 or 7 years it makes it more difficult for private sector investors to make the long-term decisions needed for railway assets that can have a lifetime of many years.
But at the same time, we need to make sure we’ve got robust mechanisms to protect the passenger interest. The direction in which we’re going is away from detailed, specified inputs into contracts, to focusing on the outcomes for passengers, focusing on passenger satisfaction. So setting the rail industry tough targets in delivering high levels of passenger satisfaction, but giving them a bit more flexibility to innovate and decide how best to deliver on those targets, to deliver the passenger satisfaction levels that we want.
Thank you again for taking part, many thanks.