WLR’s letter to the Daily Telegraph was published on Saturday (£).
A new railway model
SIR – Rupert Darwall (“Whitehall’s meddling mandarins must give up control of our railways”, Comment, February 14) is too hard on Chris Grayling, the transport secretary.
You cannot reform or abolish the franchise system overnight; we must do our best to keep the rail franchises running while putting in place reforms that will deliver better experiences for passengers and end train subsidies.
These reforms are already happening. East-West Rail, connecting Oxford with Cambridge, was created at the end of last year. By owning its own infrastructure as well as operating trains, it will have the balance sheet to support ongoing investment much better than any franchisee.
This model is also being promoted by the Windsor Link Railway (WLR), where one of the options being discussed is the purchase from Network Rail of the railway between Slough to Staines, simplifying the creation of a new rail link between the M4 and M3 economic corridors. Owning the infrastructure, either privately or in partnership with local authorities, also facilitates urban regeneration, including significant numbers of new homes.