Railway review is welcome but major investment is needed to upgrade ‘decrepit Victorian infrastructure’ says Sheffield City Region mayor Dan Jarvis
South Yorkshire mayor Dan Jarvis has welcomed a Government review on planned changes to how railways are run but says major investment is needed to upgrade the county’s ‘decrepit Victorian infrastructure’.
The Department of Transport has published the Williams-Shapps Review which outlines the plan to set up ‘Great British Railways’ who will set timetables and prices, sell tickets in England and manage rail infrastructure eventually taking over from Network Rail.
The changes aim to make buying tickets more easier and streamlined while introducing ‘flexible season tickets’ for part-time commuters and a ‘significant rollout’ of more pay as you go, contactless and digital ticketing on smartphones
Government Ministers have said a more unified rail system will lead to more ‘high-quality, consistent services’ from 2023 onwards, along with better connections.
But the plans fall short of a full renationalised system as private operators will still be given contracts to run services on certain lines.
Mayor Jarvis said he welcomed plans – which includes giving greater control to regional leaders – but added that passengers must come before profit and major investment is needed to ‘level up’ the North of England.
Responding to the Williams-Shapps Review published on Thursday (May 20), the Sheffield City Region mayor said: “I welcome review and the plan that local leaders will be given greater control, but it’s vital that alongside these controls comes the investment needed to improve our railways.
“Rebranding the railways will not solve the underlying problems for passengers nor level up the north.
“Passengers must come first, and their needs must be put ahead of profits. In South Yorkshire and across the North we need transformational investment to upgrade our decrepit Victorian infrastructure and improve connectivity between Northern towns and cities.
“If this government wants to be taken seriously on the levelling up agenda, this will be a key test that they must meet.”