During Transport Oral Questions the Secretary of State, Grant Shapps, assured me that the Government will take forward the recommendation of the Williams Rail Review to set up an independent body and that we will not return to the days of the old British Rail.
"When it comes to financial support, the railways have had billions, and I am grateful that they continue to run. The Williams review to reform the railways envisaged a “guiding mind” body that would be at arm’s length to the Department for Transport, the train operators and Network Rail, in order to properly oversee and run the railway. There is some concern that that arm’s length body may end up as Network Rail, which sounds a little like the days of the old British Rail. Can the Secretary of State assure me that there will be that independent “guiding mind” body to run and oversee both train and track?"
"I thank my hon. Friend for his work on the Transport Committee, and the close attention that the Committee pays to these subjects. Clearly, the rail network has been going through extraordinary times, with much of the support that I described earlier going to rail. As we move forward, it is important that we do not end up back with the old British Rail, with bad sandwiches and the rest of it, but at the same time we bring a fragmented system back together. That is what the Williams review aims to do, and in some ways covid has enabled us to accelerate that process. I assure my hon. Friend that the outcome will not be some conglomerate with no real “guiding mind” and all the worst from the past, and we will move forward with the Williams reforms."