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Page last updated at 07:47 GMT, Thursday, 19 May 2011 08:47 UK

'Bright future' for railways


A report on Britain's railways, headed by the former Civil Aviation Authority chairman Sir Roy McNulty, has revealed that they are 30% more expensive to run than comparable networks around the world, sparking calls for government reform of fares and ticketing.

The fragmentation of British Rail is "crucial" in understanding its rising costs, rail expert Christian Wolmar told Evan Davis.

"Railways are best run under a unified management," he argued, pointing out that British Rail costs to the taxpayer has soared from £1bn to £5bn.

But Transport Secretary Philip Hammond welcomed the report, saying that the government had to start "from were we are" but insisting that now was not the time for a mass re-structuring of the network.

While adding that the rail network's structure "is broadly right", he urged closer collaboration between train operators and Network Rail.

"If we can get these McNulty reforms driven through over the next few years, successfully reducing costs, then we can lower the taxpayer subsidy to the railway and put the era of inflation busting fair rises behind us," he said.

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