“All change”

As we move into a new decade, the rail sector is bracing itself for its biggest shake up in years. With a new Government, Brexit, the Williams Review, the Oakervee Review and the continuation of regional devolution, 2020 is going to be a year of major change for the rail sector.

Of these, the one thing certain to have the biggest impact is the Williams Review. With the White Paper due to land anytime soon, we are bracing ourselves for what will be a radical overhaul of  passenger services. At Keith Williams’ appearance before the Transport Select Committee in October last year, he offered insight into the recommendations he was going to make in order to deliver on his commitment to put passengers first. These include the creation of a new national railway body to act as an ‘independent guiding mind’ similar to that of the Strategic Rail Authority. Williams was keen to see a better aligning of track and train, and the creation of clear accountability and a greater distance between government and the day to day running of the railway. Whilst the scope of the new body’s responsibilities are yet to be decided, he did suggest that it would retain revenue risk rather than passing this on to the appointed Train Operating Company (TOC).

Williams also made it clear that the current franchising model had “had its day” A new system was needed that enabled the TOCs to get on with running services in the interest of passengers, whilst incentivising them to deliver creativity and innovation. Williams has highlighted TfL in the past as a role model because of the wide range of innovations they have implemented which has had a positive impact on their customer experience.

During his speech to the select committee he also suggested that he would recommend ‘considering’ the removal of profit motives from passenger train operating contracts and the move to ‘passenger service contracts’ instead. If this change was implemented Williams suggested that the national railway body would be responsible for the letting of these contracts, with the DfT only being responsible for setting broad national railway strategy.

Finally, the future of ticketing is also high on the agenda with Williams being in favour of simplifying ticketing for passengers in order to encourage further use of the rail network.

With all these changes, the need to embrace new technologies and ways of thinking will be key. Norman Broadbent have been helping an ever-increasing number of clients better understand and further define how their target operating models will need to change to meet these new requirements. Through the use of confidential business intelligence and pre-search due diligence projects we are able to provide leadership teams with the insight required to make informed strategic decisions and de-risk the hiring of new skills and expertise required to implement the strategy.

If you would like to confidentially discuss how Norman Broadbent Group could help you overcome both your business or people challenges, please contact Nick Behan on +44 (0) 0207 484 0106 or via nick.behan@normanbroadbent.com