Extension of Emergency Measures Agreements

21 September 2020

The government has extended the emergency measures agreements which ran out on Sunday 20 September. The decision was not unexpected, and comes after the DfT exercised its option on 2 September to extend the EMA at GWR until at least 26 June 2021.

 

Commentators in right-wing newspapers such as the Daily Telegraph and Daily Mail have claimed it is 'nationalisation by the back door' – which it isn't – but it is a way of road testing what we understand will be the conclusions of the Williams rail review when it is finally published.

 

Keith Williams will, we believe, suggest replacing the failed franchise model with a system of management contracts. Instead of bidding for a franchise, and taking the fare box, operators will receive a fixed fee for running a service while the Treasury collects the cash.

 

These extended EMAs – which have been criticised in some quarters – will, the DfT says, give Transport Secretary Grant Shapps an opportunity to see if the model works.

 

'We are being pragmatic,' said GS Mick Whelan. 'We don't want cliff-edge changes during a pandemic. We want to make sure our members continue to get paid for doing their jobs.

 

'Public ownership of Britain's railway is a long-term strategic goal but, for now, during this coronavirus crisis, the extension of the EMAs is a pragmatic solution to the industry's problems.'

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