Despite the fact that the Williams Review is yet to be published, we were given a glimpse of what to expect in the State Opening of Parliament last month. For the rail sector, the headline of the Queen’s speech was that the discredited UK rail franchise model is to undergo a radical overhaul. Whilst the fact of the overhaul was not a surprise, the timing of it was unexpected, as it had been expected that this would be announced by Keith Williams, Chair of the Williams Review, and therefore the person who has been commissioned to review the rail network, rather than the Queen herself.
Normally the content of the Queen’s speech is well known ahead of time, but on this occasion the Prime Minister had slipped in a single line into her speech to address the rail sector. “Proposals on railway reform will be brought forward”, she stated, pre-empting the results of the Williams’ Review by several months and effectively instructing the Government to tear up the current franchise model and start again.
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