The Government said the review will consider aspects including accountability, and value for money for passengers and taxpayers.
Its announcement comes after an investigation by the transport regulator – the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) – into the May timetable change concluded the Department for Transport, Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), Network Rail, Northern and the ORR itself all made mistakes during the May timetable fiasco.
The timetable change was intended to deliver benefits to passengers, but instead saw hundreds of trains a day cancelled on Great Northern, Northern, Thameslink and TransPennine Express routes, as we revealed in our MSE News story earlier this week.
Commuters are being offered extra compensation for the timetable chaos, see our Train Delays guide for more.
Why did the timetable changes cause so much chaos?
The ORR has published a 183-page report, cataloguing failures by various organisations which led to the scale of the disruption experienced by passengers.
Some of the reasons include:
- Delays with Network Rail’s electrification work in the north west of England.
- GTR and Northern were not “properly aware or prepared” for the problems with the new timetables and did not do enough to provide accurate information to passengers when disruption occurred.
- The Department for Transport and ORR failed to properly examine the assurances they received from the industry about the risk of disruption.
The ORR report states: “For the May timetable changes there were well-intentioned but counterproductive late adjustments to ‘de-risk’ the situation.
“Network Rail’s timetable planning department, the System Operator, was best placed to notice that a problem was developing and they did recognise this. But they did not take sufficient action to manage the risks or the consequences.
“The present industry arrangements do not support clarity of decision making: it was unclear who was responsible for what. Nobody took charge.”
What will the review do?
Former British Airways chief executive Keith Williams is to lead the review of the rail industry, supported by a panel of experts.
Any reforms set out by the review are to be implemented from 2020.
Exactly what the review will focus on is unclear, but the Government says it will consider all parts of the sector, including accountability, the franchising system – where the opportunity to run certain railway routes are contracted out to private companies – and value for money.