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The Progressive Policy Think Tank

The future of rail: The opportunities for devolution in the Williams Review

The Williams Rail Review (The Review) is a ‘root and branch’ review of railways in Great Britain, chaired by Keith Williams. It forms part of the government’s aim for a world-class railway, which works seamlessly as part of the wider transport network and delivers opportunities across our nations and regions.

The Review’s terms of reference cover:

  • commercial models and good value fares prioritising passengers and taxpayers
  • clear accountability and joint working benefitting passengers and freight in rail industry structures
  • financial sustainability and addressing long-term cost pressures
  • improving industrial relations
  • ensuring agility to respond to future challenges and opportunities.

The Review’s call for evidence closed earlier this year with a white paper set for autumn ahead of reforms beginning in 2020. The Review produced evidence papers, summarising key themes and evidence. Transport for the North (TfN) highlighted that the evidence papers do not yet look at the effectiveness of devolved decision-making or governance, nor the merits of different models (TfN 2019).