Britain’s railways are set for the biggest shake-up in quarter of a century as the government prepares to bring travel under state control.
A newly-launched public body, Great British Railways (GBR), will integrate the railways, own the infrastructure, collect fare revenue, run and plan the network, and set most fares and timetables.
However, private operators will continue to run most trains.
GBR will provide new Pay As You Go and flexible season tickets in an attempt to simplify the current travel ticketing system.
A new national flexi season ticket will be on sale from June 21, with potential savings of “hundreds of pounds a year” for 2 and 3 day-a-week commuters.
The government vowed affordable walk-on fares and season ticket prices will be protected during the major reshuffle.
Grant Shapps Transport Secretary, who is spearheading the changes, said that GBR would bring an end to “years of fragmentation, confusion and over-complication” in UK rail travel.
He stated: “Great British Railways marks a new era in the history of our railways. It will become a single familiar brand with a bold new vision for passengers – of punctual services, simpler tickets and a modern and green railway that meets the needs of the nation.”
Shapps clarified: “This is not renationalisation, which failed the railways, rather it is simplification.
“While Great British Railways acts as the guiding mind to coordinate the whole network, our plan will see greater involvement of the private sector – private companies will be contracted to run the trains, with stronger competition to run services.”
GBR is the product of the The Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail – a strategy for modern transport underpinned by new contracts that “prioritise punctual and reliable services [and] the rapid delivery of a ticketing revolution”.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said GBR would “deliver a rail system the country can be proud of”.
He added: “For too long passengers have not had the level of service they deserve.”
Andy Bagnall, the director general of the Rail Delivery Group, said the changes would allow “operators to put their customers at the absolute forefront of decision-making”.
He stated: “Getting the detail right will be crucial to ensuring that the white paper fulfils its potential to improve journeys, offer independent oversight and clear accountability, and create a new set of fares which are simpler and more value for money.”
Manchester United reject offers for Mason Greenwood as rep says he ‘should be allowed to move forward with his young life’
Manchester United have reportedly rejected a number of offers for Mason Greenwood as the club continues their internal investigation into his behaviour.
The club have reportedly received a number of offers for the young forward from Turkish teams in recent weeks and months while Greenwood has been suspended from playing or training. He has yet to return to the sport after charges of attempted rape, controlling and coercive behaviour and assault occasioning actual bodily harm were dropped.
The charges handed down in January 2022 were ultimately dropped last month when key witnesses withdrew, more than a year on from the incident that was widely circulated on social media.
Now, following a behind-the-scenes feature by The Athletic and ‘new material’ leading the Crown Prosecution Service to drop the case for the foreseeable, it seems United are now the only party still investigating Greenwood, with his own team and figures around the club pushing for a resolution.
Speaking to Laurie Whitwell as part of the piece, one of Greenwood’s representatives argued that there is “no real substance” to the allegations, them “a mix of old news, speculation, half-truths and completely untrue claims.”
He went on to say, “Mason is 21, he has been cleared and should be allowed the opportunity to rebuild and move forward with his young life.”
Another source is also said to have told the outlet that the youngster has been fundamentally changed by the experience, insisting that he “would run through a brick wall” to be back playing at United.
As for the club’s stance, it remains to be seen what their final decision on his future will be, but it was reported earlier this month that a potential return is still “firmly under consideration” and his number 11 shirt has not yet been vacated as many would have expected if he was set to move on.
On the other hand, the article goes on to detail questions surrounding Greenwood’s conduct and general attitude during his relatively short time as a senior player too, the suggestion being that he was slacking in training because “he knew he was a good player”.
His attendance at Carrington is said to have been raised as an issue on more than one occasion and then-manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær often covered for training sessions and games he missed after failing to turn up to the team hotel for “unexplained absences”.
Another source who watched him play aged just 16 also went on to reveal that Bradford-born academy product “wasn’t shy about telling someone they were s***”, apparently even calling out Cristiano Ronaldo as “dead [finished]” when he was still at Real Madrid.
Greenwood played over 100 senior games for United and was widely considered one of the brightest young prospects in England, let alone the club, but the career trajectory he looked to be on is widely different from the problematic position he finds himself in now, regardless of any offers from abroad.
So, after setting up a fake consultancy firm based out of Seoul, South Korea called Hanseong Consulting and inviting along a number of MPs, many of whom either previously held or currently sit in senior party positions, they began holding Zoom interviews with the various candidates to see if they’d be interested.
More importantly, however, the crucial question was “how much would they want to be paid?”. The likes of former Matt Hancock and Kwasi Kwarteng had very simple but nevertheless astounding answers:
As you can see in the trailer for the full mini-documentary, both the former health secretary and the ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer quoted their day rate as up to £10,000.
In fact, Hancock broke down his figures even further, insisting that an hourly rate would equate to “around £1,500”. Wonder how that sizes up to the fee he was paid to be on I’m A Celeb? (yes, that wasn’t a fever dream, it really happened). We’ll let you do the nauseating maths on that one.
Other Tories who were duped into putting themselves forward for the made-up job included Gavin Williamson, Stephen Hammond and the Chairman of the party’s 1922 Committee (a private members group known to influencers backbenchers), Sir Graham Brady.
Well, they were the only ‘candidates’ to have issued statements after the fact trying to play down the story, anyway. The campaigners approached 20 different MPs under the guise of the fabricated company, with other individuals dropping out in more preliminary stages.
After having asked for £60k a year on top of his £48k annual salary as the representative for Manc constituency Altrincham and Sale West, this would have been Brady’s fourth job besides his two marketing and comms advisory roles, but assured he would always act “within the Code of Conduct”.
Hammond had more to say on the matter, responding that “scamming is an unpleasant activity undertaken with malicious intent”, while Hancock’s office responded by labelling it a “failed attempt at entrapment” and insisted he is free to look at “exploratory options” as he is set to stand down as an MP.
Led By Donkeys are now in the process of gradually releasing each one of the fake job interviews in full on their YouTube channel.