Does anyone understand the Williams-Shapps Rail Plan?


On the 20th May the Government published a policy paper under the headline of “Great British Railways: Williams-Shapps plan for rail” which is described as the The government’s plan to transform the railways in Great Britain. The two people who formed it are Grant Shapps who has been the Secretary of State for Transport since 2019 and Keith William who has taken part in a number of senior roles including a board member of the Royal Mail and its Deputy Chairman in January 2018 and in May 2019 he became the Chairman. A few days after their document was published, Caroline Lucas who is the MP for Brighton Pavilion asked a question of the Government and she got an answer although it was clearly a very strange answer. To begin on this subject the Government website published the policy paper with the following statement as part of the explanation on this website. The statement is:

This white paper sets out our plan for a revolution on the railways in Great Britain. It is based on the shared vision of Keith Williams, the independent Chair of the Rail Review, and the Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP, the Secretary of State for Transport, to put rail on the right track to support the levelling up of our towns, cities and regions.

It shows how the government will make railways the backbone of a cleaner, more environmentally friendly and modern public transport system across the country.

By replacing franchising, accelerating innovation and integrating the railways, we will deliver an efficient, financially sustainable railway that meets the needs of passengers and those who rely on rail on a daily basis.

The date of the question is not defined but the answer to the question was set out on 28th May

Caroline Lucas: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, for what reasons the prices of the new flexible carnet tickets announced on 20 May have not been announced; on what date those prices will be published; for what reasons the tickets can be bought on 21 June 2021 but cannot be used for travel until seven days later; and what assessment he has made of the ability of (a) commuters (b) employers to plan for a safe return to work for people who have been working from home during the covid-19 outbreak without full information on flexible commuting costs.

The answer was stated by Chris Heaton-Harris who is the Minister of State for the Department of Transport

Chris Heaton-Harris: As announced on 20 May, alongside the Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail, the Government is introducing new flexible season tickets across England this year, with the new tickets going on sale on 21 June, and becoming available for use on 28 June.

Tickets will go on sale a week in advance to provide passengers enough time to consider the best option for them before planning travel. A new season ticket calculator will be available for passengers to check the best value option for their travel plan.

Illustrative savings for routes across the country are available now in the press notice announcing the launch of flexible season tickets on http://www.gov.uk, but final prices will be published on 21 June.

We continue to work closely with operators and other stakeholders to ensure we can support people to return to the network safely and with confidence, including people travelling to work, in line with the milestones set out in the Government’s roadmap for exiting national measures. In line with the easing of restrictions on 17 May, operators increased service levels to around 85 per cent of pre-pandemic levels.

I certainly cannot understand why we have to buy a ticket a week before we can be told when the planning they want can be made. Perhaps it is as basic of spending the money a week before we can get the benefits? Perhaps we need to ask the Government for a bit more clarity?

About ianchisnall

I am passionate about the need for public policies to be made accessible to everyone, especially those who want to improve the wellbeing of their communities. I am particularly interested in issues related to crime and policing as well as health services and strategic planning.
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