Last week, Labour won the UK’s election, securing 63% of the seats. On Friday, Keir Starmer, the new Prime Minister, announced his cabinet, naming Louise Haigh as the new Secretary of State for Transport. Haigh has been the Shadow Minister since November 2021. So, what should we expect?

  1. Passenger Rail Renationalisation. A key policy issue and one of the few transport promises from Labour. The Labour government intends to set up a new body, “Great British Railways” (GBR), which will take responsibility for running passenger services once existing private contracts expire. GBR will oversee day-to-day operations, infrastructure, and services, aiming to improve services and create efficiencies.
    Additionally, the government will establish the “Passenger Standards Authority,” a new watchdog to monitor and champion improvements in service performance across the rail network.
  2. Local Management of Public Transport. Haigh supports the TfL and TfGM franchise model, and we are likely to see the government supporting local leaders to take more control over their local bus services (i.e. franchise) and lifting the ban on municipal ownership.
  3. Advancing Sustainable Transport. Budget permitting, we can expect the government to continue funding the transition to electric and low-emission vehicles and to promote active travel initiatives.
  4. Autonomous Vehicles and Other Emerging Technologies: We know very little about Haigh’s stance on autonomous vehicles beyond her concerns about job losses. There is also no information on her position regarding Demand-Responsive Transport (DRT) and scooters, two issues awaiting decisions from the Department for Transport on whether to integrate them into the public transport mix.

Will the UK see nationalised passenger rail and stronger local control? Can these changes lead to better services? Labour has five years to prove it. Stay tuned.

The new Secretary of State for Transport Louise Haigh MP (left) alongside Alan Wright from Ground Transport Group (right) at the Transport for the North conference in Newcastle