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28 October: news in brief

More hints about Williams Review expected today

THE author of the forthcoming Williams Review into railway industry reforms is to be questioned by MPs in public today. The Commons Transport Committee will be quizzing Keith Williams about how his review has worked, what conclusions are emerging and how his recommendations should be acted upon. Mr Williams has given some indications of his key findings already, which include a radical shake up of passenger rail franchising. There have also been several third party reports suggesting that he is set to create a new industry body to oversee railway management, reducing the role of the Department for Transport. The session will be broadcast live on Parliamentary tv at 16.30 today.

DfT starts negotiations over next Greater Western franchise

THE Department for Transport has started negotiations with FirstGroup over the next Greater Western contract. First’s present Great Western Railway franchise ends on 31 March. A DfT spokesman confirmed that discussions were taking place, but would give no further details. The most likely result will be a Direct Award, as time is running out for competitive tendering.

Welsh Marches line blocked by flood damage

TRAIN services have been suspended between Hereford and Newport, after heavy rain washed away ballast near Pontrilas on Saturday. Network Rail warned that trains are not expected to be restored before 2 November. Replacement buses are running. Still in Wales, the line between Clarbeston Road and Fishguard Harbour will remain closed until 15 November, after a tree fell across the track on 17 October. It was then struck by a train, but no injuries were reported.

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