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Great British Railways – all you need to know about the new service

The British rail system is being overhauled and will be rebranded as Great British Railways – this is all you need to know.

Goodbye Network Rail, hello Great British Railways

Over the past ten years Britain’s Network Rail has had some very bad press with frequently late running trains and cancellations, dirty carriages and some eye-watering fares.

So it’s great news that the British Government has announced plans to replace Network Rail with a new company, Great British Railways (GBR). Operating over 20,000 miles of rail network, this public body will have the powers to set most most fares and timetables. It will also issue contracts to individual companies to run the trains under the supervision of GBR.

The full details of this exciting development in British rail travel were announced this week in a Government White Paper. ‘I am a great believer in rail but for too long passengers have not had the level of service they deserve,’ said Prime Minister Boris Johnson. ‘By creating Great British Railways and investing in the future of the network, this Government will deliver a rail system the country can be proud of.’

Those with long memories of when the country ran the publicly-backed British Rail will welcome this announcement. So what’s in store?

Flexible season tickets

The Covid crisis has changed the working patterns of many people, allowing us to choose when and where we work. This is a trend that is set to stay so 5-day-a-week season tickets seem antiquated.

Consequently, GBR will be offering flexible season tickets. These will allow commuters to travel for eight days over a 28-day periods – or two trips a week in a month. They will go on sale next month. The new tickets are set to be much cheaper than traditional seven-day season tickets.

Cheaper fares

As Britons and visitors from overseas know well, travelling on British trains can be very costly. But Great British Railways has vowed to make fares cheaper. This is good news for anyone who loves to travel by train. One way of doing this is by introducing contactless pay-as-you-go train travel to all British towns and cities.

The future

The process of changing over from Network Rail to GBR will happen gradually over the next few years. One of the biggest changes you will see is how GBR will set new timetables and fares.

GBR will sell all the tickets on the network, meaning it will receive fare revenues directly. If the train operators running under GBR fail to run their trains on time or run dirty, run-down trains they will be penalised. The changeover will happen from this year but the service won’t be fully functional until the end of 2022.

Our verdict

This is great news for Great Britain and everyone who loves to travel around our country. With the Government taking back control of our rail network, we should benefit from a cheaper, more well-run service. This is fantastic news for us and the planet too.