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Grant Shapps set to centralise control of Britain’s railways –

The Government will use emergency coronavirus controls of the UK’s railways to centralise control of Britain’s railways, in a move comparable to nationalisation.

The Transport Secretary said the crisis had provided opportunities to establish a “different type of railway”, in a move that would mean the end of the franchise system established by John Major.

Train operators would receive a fixed fee from the Government which would essentially own all routes and collect fares.

Under the current system franchise holders collect fares and pay a percentage to the Exchequer, which encourages them to maximise income.

The entire system would be overseen by a board, which would likely be chaired by the Transport Secretary, giving the Government more control over pricing and timetabling.

In a meeting of the Commons’ Transport Select Committee on Wednesday, Mr Shapps said such a model would “bring the railway back together”.

Mr Shapps compared it to the system of Transport for London, in which operators are contracted to run London Overground lines “as concessions”.

It is understood that Network Rail, which currently operates the train networks’ tracks, could be given the powers to specify and award such contracts.

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