Brighton and Hove City Council Leader Warren Morgan is calling for the creation of “Rail South”, a new body to give residents and commuters a say in who runs their rail services, holding those service providers to account and ensuring central government gives our region the infrastructure and operators fit for the rail service commuters and businesses need.
“It’s time for action on the failing Southern services, and time for passengers and businesses to have a locally accountable and democratically elected voice in how those services are designed and run. It is time for the Department for Transport to end the current “concession” arrangement with GTR, and work with passengers, business and councils on awarding a new franchise that gives us the rail services we desperately need. I have written to the Leaders of East and West Sussex County Councils this week to ask for their partnership in taking this idea forward.”
The new body would work in partnership with Department of Transport to manage the Southern rail franchise, in a similar way to Rail North. It would have a statutory role in the awarding of franchises and scrutiny of service standards, and work under the umbrella of the emerging Transport for the South East sub-national transport body, equivalent to Transport for London.
It would be a cohesive and proactive body, applying local, economic and geographical knowledge to the re-franchising process, and advance plans for future devolution of rail services, planning and infrastructure investment.
Jonathan Sharrock, Chief Executive of Coast to Capital LEP, has supported the proposal, saying Rail North is a good template: “Stronger local involvement in the specification and delivery of franchises is essential if we are to rebuild confidence in Southern and also to get more leverage over the investment decisions on the Brighton Main Line that Government needs to take in the next 12 months.”