Transport secretary Chris Grayling will today unveil ambitious plans to shatter Network Rail's monopoly over Britain's train tracks.
Speaking at centre-right think tank Policy Exchange, Grayling will set out plans to bring closer together train operation and infrastructure maintenance, beginning on services between Oxford and Cambridge
A new “East West Rail” organisation will lead on the completion of the line between the two cities before the franchise is handed to a new integrated operation, while new franchises due to be let on South Eastern and the East Midlands will also follow suit.
The Department for Transport hopes that by putting the UK's tracks and trains in the same hands, it can open up the maintenance of the rail infrastructure to competition, and drive improved services for Britain's railway users.
“When things go wrong, a lack of a joined up approach can make things much worse for the passenger. In my experience passengers don’t understand the division between the two. They just want someone to be in charge. They want their train to work. I agree with them,” Grayling will say.
“Our railway is much better run by one joined up team of people. They don’t have to work for the same company. They do have to work in the same team.”
It comes as sources tell City A.M. that Grayling has agreed to regular quarterly meetings with London mayor Sadiq Khan over the capital's transport issues.
Khan has been pushing hard to gain more control over London's suburban railways, and Grayling met with the mayor yesterday to discuss air quality, and cross rail, as well as further devolution. Future meetings could cover "anything and everything" on the capital's transport agenda, City A.M. understands.
Brexit secretary David Davis has separately agreed to have monthly meetings with Khan ahead of the government's planned triggering of Article 50 early next year.