West Yorks Combined Authority calls for major rail reforms

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The current system for commissioning and operating rail services is “not working for the region”, the West Yorkshire Combined Authority has told a Government-commissioned review.

In its submission to the Williams Review, the Combined Authority calls for reforms to the railway framework which should put customers first.

The Authority says the rail system should be designed to support the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ programme of regeneration and deliver what customers want and need – a reliable, punctual and value for money service.

Led by Keith Williams, The Williams Review was commissioned by the Government in 2018 to recommend the most appropriate organisational and commercial frameworks to support the delivery of the Government’s vision for the railway.

The Government is due to publish a White Paper in response to its recommendations in autumn 2019, with reform of the sector to begin in 2020.

Cllr Judith Blake, West Yorkshire Combined Authority Lead on Transport and Leader of Leeds City Council, said: “As recent months have demonstrated, the current system for operating the railway is not working for our region.

“Alongside significant investment in infrastructure, we urgently need a rail system that meets the needs of, and is accountable to, the North of England.

“It is vital that the Williams Review delivers the rail reforms that our region urgently requires and ensures that passengers are put first.

“We would welcome the opportunity to further contribute to the review and to help shape its recommendations.”

Cllr Kim Groves, Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s Transport Committee, added: “The Williams Review is a huge opportunity to help shape our railway and to ensure it plays the role we need it to.

“Rail demand is continuing to grow but the current framework is not fit for purpose.

“We need a rail system that puts passengers first and integrates track and train to support our efforts to deliver economic growth which benefits all our communities.”