Nick Bamford’s takeaways following GTMC Surface Transportation Sector Conference…
The GMTC’s Surface Transportation Sector Conference took place on Tuesday 14 May at Birmingham Airport, where Andy Wakeford, Rail Delivery Group’s (RDG) head of fares, gave a valuable insider’s view on the fares simplification programme. RDG’s aim is to remove the barriers to fares innovation which have constrained the industry since privatisation 25 years ago, and which have in some cases been further compounded by well-meaning but flawed government intervention in subsequent years.
So, how long until customers start to see the benefits of a simplified approach to fares? And how does the industry ensure that the momentum towards simplification isn’t slowed down by the ongoing Williams Review into the future commercial structure of the rail industry? While acknowledging that fares simplification cannot be seen as entirely separate from the outcomes of the strategic review, Andy expects that the first benefits should be seen in the next fares-setting round at the end of 2019.
The event also brought some great insight from Louise Coward, Transport Focus, on the concerns and priorities of the rail business traveller. This came from Transport Focus’s bi-annual National Rail Passenger Survey conducted face-to-face, so it reflects the experience of customers on the day. Head to transportfocus.org.uk for more details on recent surveys.
Rounding the day off was a fascinating presentation by Birmingham City Council on future transport developments in the city, particularly around the plans for developing the area and links between the airport, Birmingham International station and the new HS2 interchange. With the Commonwealth Games coming to the city in 2022 it’s great to see how an international event can focus minds on delivering real improvements and a valuable legacy.