New rail plans promise to make cycle rail travel easier

The Department for Transport has announced that The Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail has been presented to parliament earlier today. New public body Great British Railways will integrate the railways with the aim of delivering passenger focussed, more sustainable and reliable travel.

The document reflects the independent recommendations of Keith Williams. Williams identified serious issues facing the railways before the emergence of Covid-19 and claims that the pandemic has exacerbated some of these and added more. The plan sets out a plan to ensure that the system is ready to meet these challenges.

The UK government claims that it is committed to delivering a cleaner, greener public transport system, offering passengers a better deal and greater value for money for taxpayers. That means getting the trains to run on time, providing a better quality of service and having a firm control of the sector’s costs.

The rail transformation programme will deliver 10 key outcomes:

  • a modern passenger experience
  • a retail revolution
  • new ways of working with the private sector
  • economic recovery and financial sustainable railways
  • greater control for local people and places
  • cleaner, greener railways
  • bold, new opportunities for rail freight
  • increased speed of delivery and efficient enhancements
  • skilled, innovative workforce
  • a simpler industry structure

Additionally, the report claims that the Government will be investing £2 billion of new money to dramatically improve cycling. The government will invest a substantial amount into safe cycle routes to stations, particularly in commuter towns such as Guildford and Harrogate, and increase cycle storage at stations.

Although many of us cycle part of our daily commute, over the years many railways have reduced space available for bikes on trains. Great British Railways have said that it will increase space on existing trains wherever practically possible, including on popular leisure routes. It will also make it easier to reserve bike spaces online and without reservation on quieter trains. All future train feets will need to include more bike spaces relevant to the markets served. However, operators will continue to restrict bikes on peak-hour commuter trains, where the space is needed for passengers.