Business News

All change: A new centralised body will take over the UK’s rail network

UK railways prepared for ‘shake-up’

A new centralised body will take control of timetables and ticketing in the biggest shake- up of the UK’s rail network in three decades, the Government has announced. Great British Railways (GBR) has been created

to set timetables and prices, sell tickets and manage rail infrastructure. However, private operators will still be

contracted to run most trains. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the aim

was to offer more punctual services and cheaper tickets. The changes follow a review by Mr Shapps

and former British Airways boss Keith Williams. GBR will replace the current operator of

infrastructure, Network Rail, but is not expected to be established until 2023.

Andy Street re- elected as mayor

Business leaders in Greater Birmingham have pledged to work with re-elected West Midlands mayor Andy Street (pictured) to help the region get back on its feet. The Conservative candidate

defeated Hodge Hill Labour MP Liam Byrne in the second West Midlands mayoral election, held in May, by 47,043 votes.


Brealey, chief executive of Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce (GBCC), congratulated Mr Street on his election win, and said that the Chamber stands ready to work with the mayor to support business. She said: “We congratulate

Andy on his re-election as West Midlands mayor – it’s been a hard fought campaign. “Having worked closely with

Andy and the senior team at the West Midlands Combined Authority WMCA for a number of years, the Chamber look forward to building on that spirit of collaboration and ensuring that the voice of business is central to the mayor’s plans for revitalising the region.”

8 CHAMBERLINK June 2021 The Government says the new system should

look more like Transport for London, with multiple operators under one brand, offering greater accountability when things go wrong. Raj Kandola, head of policy at Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, said: “Rail passengers have been demanding change to the UK’s fragmented rail system for some time, so we welcome any changes that ultimately lead to greater efficiency and better services. “However, it remains to be seen what impact a

central body will have on local services. An over centralised system could lead to less input on timetables in our region, as well as other decisions that require local knowledge.” Maria Machancoses, CEO of transport body Midlands Connect, said the changes could be

positive for passengers if implemented properly. She said: “This raft of changes is what the rail

industry and its passengers have been waiting for, and if implemented correctly, could have huge benefits for travellers. This concession model will reward operators for delivering what passengers want most – trains that run on time, friendly service and clean stations. “Coordinating the network via a centralised

organisation, the ‘Great British Railway’ presents many opportunities, including providing the public with much needed clarity on decision making. However, this centralisation also presents risks – namely that the new structure will be less agile or have a lesser understanding of local issues than the previous franchising model.”

High-profile sponsors join Chamber’s trade conference

By Dan Harrison

Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce’s Global Trade Conference has received backing from some high-profile sponsors. Following the success of the 2020 Global Trade

Conference, and the Transatlantic Conferences of 2018 and 2019, the Greater Birmingham Commonwealth and Transatlantic Chambers are hosting another event which will help businesses learn more about new markets and trading internationally.

‘After a year of uncertainty, connecting with others on a global scale becomes ever more important’

The conference will take place on 23 June as a

half-day digital event. It will also be part of a five-week Festival of

Business campaign, celebrating the business communities that are part of the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce group. The Global Trade Conference has received high-

profile backing from three headline sponsors – Birmingham City University, Lemonzest and Dyke Yaxley.

Dyke Yaxley is a chartered accountancy firm with

a presence on both sides of the Atlantic. Christy Woskobojnik, tax manager at Dyke Yaxley

USA, said: “Dyke Yaxley USA is pleased to be a headline sponsor of the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce’s 2021 Global Trade Conference. We’re honoured to be included with the international group of experts being brought together to provide a post-Covid analysis of the global economy and to share our transatlantic experiences as an accountancy firm specialising in providing UK/US tax and business advisory services to clients in the UK and US.” Lemonzest is a Birmingham-based events management and production company for global live events, award ceremonies, conferences, seminars, fashion shows, gala dinners and exhibitions. Commercial director Louise Connor said: “The

Lemonzest team are proud to be selected as headline sponsor for the Chamber’s Global Trade Conference. After a year of uncertainty, connecting with others on a global scale becomes ever more important. “To be providing our expertise to deliver an online

virtual conference, and make the event accessible in real-time and on-demand will extend the reach of this global conference.”

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