►► A West Coast main line Virgin Pendolino at Liverpool. The collapse of the franchise contest in 2012 led to a review of how franchising could be reformed ◀◀

A rail executive is to be set up by the Department for Transport to combat the fragmented organisation of the railways.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin announced the creation of an executive today (26 February 2014) in a written statement to Parliament.

Within the rail executive, a new office of rail passenger services will also be set up to “deliver” the franchise programme and manage existing franchises.

Mr McLoughlin hinted that the rail executive might be developed as a body at “arms length” from the Government – after 2016.

The idea of setting up an executive was promoted more than a year ago by former Eurostar chief Richard Brown who carried out a review of the franchising system after the collapse in 2012 of the West Coast main line franchise contest.

Mr McLoughlin said: “Creation of the rail executive will support the drive to strengthen our focus on passengers, build an enhanced culture of commercial expertise and innovation, and ensure greater coordination of improvements to track and trains.

“A single team will manage the interdependencies between rolling stock, track, stations, freight and passenger services, and between existing services and HS2.

“It will also develop an effective framework agreement for Network Rail, for September 2014, when it will be classified as public sector.”
Creating a rail executive would reduce the DfT’s dependency upon consultants, he said.

Government statement