Almost 30 years after privatising its entire railways network, Britain is reversing its decision and will put all rail activity under one new public body: Great British Railways. The new entity will manage network, prices and infrastructure.
The privatisation was conducted from 1993 to 1997 and the dismantling of the national public company British Rail gave way to dozens of private operators.
In parallel, another government-owned company “Network Rail Limited” has been in charge of the rail infrastructure. Both operators and NR Ltd. are due to disappear by 2023. The reform was seen as necessary as both the English and Scottish governments were forced last year to take control of all train operations to avoid their financial collapse. Many experts see that move as a re-nationalisation without being named as such.
Great British Railways will set train timetables and ticket prices as well as managing railway infrastructure. However, existing private companies will continue to operate trains under contracts with the state. The structure will look similar to the one existing for London public transport.
According to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the overhaul should improve the level of rail services for passengers and bring transparency to fares.