A draft rail reform bill was included in today's King's Speech setting out the legislative agenda for the next parliament.
The draft bill includes the establishment of Great British Railways as the entity to take on the Secretary of State’s franchising authority functions, to ensure "that operational and infrastructure decisions are made in a co-ordinated way".
It will also seek to establish the commercial conditions to create "a pragmatic partnership between state and industry, properly harnessing the dynamism and efficiency of the private sector".
However, critics have argued that publishing the bill in draft form will lead to more delay, with the full bill unlikely to make it onto the statute books before the end of the new parliament, or before a General Election due by the end of next year.
"I am genuinely struggling to see why it is so complex that, two and a half years since the Williams-Shapps plan was announced, we’re still only at this point," Richard Bowker, former head of the Strategic Rail Authority, told the PA news agency.
In its briefing notes accompanying the King's Speech, the government defended its decision to introduce a draft bill: "Given the scale and complexity of the changes being made to the sector, it is right that the draft bill undergoes pre-legislative scrutiny to provide parliamentarians and experts across industry the opportunity to review and test the legislation in draft. This will allow for a swifter passage through parliament when the legislation is brought forward."