Transport Bill: briefing note
Update - 19 October 2022 - Transport Bill delayed until further notice
It has been announced that the UK Government will not bring forward the Transport Bill in this parliamentary session. The legislation should follow in the next session of parliament (after May 2023) and the Department for Transport is expected to push for “a narrow bill” concerning emerging technologies such as e-scooters in the foreseeable future.
The Transport Bill is intended to “improve transport across the United Kingdom, delivering safer, cleaner services and enabling more innovations”. It will provide a new body, Great British Railways, with the powers it needs to act as the single national leader of the railways.
The Bill features legislation to allow self-driving and remotely-operated vehicles and vessels, as well as supporting the rollout of more electric vehicles charge points as part of the transition from petrol and diesel models.
The need to resolve questions around regulation of e-scooters (privately-owned and those used via hire schemes), together with the government’s ambition for the UK to be at the forefront of AV technology, may raise this Bill up the list of priorities and accelerate its progress through the various stages of parliamentary scrutiny.
Predominantly motor insurers, but also insurers that provide cover for product liability, cyber, EL/PL, and property and in two regards:
- First, in the context of the regulation of e-scooters (and potentially other forms of micromobility) and the development of self-driving legislation (both within the Transport Bill itself and in secondary legislation).
- Second, with the development of electric vehicle charge points/infrastructure.
Additionally, local authorities will require clarity on their role in the transition to electric vehicles.
Key aims and benefits of the Bill
According to the government’s briefing note, the key aims, purpose and benefits of the Bill include to:
- “Simplify the railways to ensure a better and more reliable service for passengers, to support economic growth across the country and ensure the survival of the railways”.
- “Keep the UK at the forefront of transport innovation, helping deliver the reforms” promised by the government “to decarbonise transport, transform the way we travel, and better connect communities”.
- Enable “innovation in transport, improving safety and providing new choices forthe public, whilst attracting investment to the UK”.
- Enable “the installation of more electric vehicle charge points throughout the UK as part of the transition away from new petrol and diesel car and van sales by 2030 and building public confidence to switch to zero emission vehicles”.
Key measures of the Bill
The briefing note outlines the derived outcomes of the Bill is to:
- “Provide a new body, Great British Railways, with the powers it needs to act as the single national leader of the railways, with clear lines of accountability for decision-making and joined-up leadership to deliver a customer-focused railway, including by improving accessibility and promoting open data”.
- Transfer “contracting powers for passenger services to Great British Railways”, and ensuring the best of the private sector is retained “by expanding its role under the new model, introducing new passenger service contracts focussed on getting the trains running punctually and reliably”.
- Introduce “new laws that safely enable self-driving and remotely operated vehicles and vessels, support the roll-out of electric vehicle charge points and enabling the licensing of London pedicabs.”
Publication of the draft Bill is awaited. While the current Conservative leadership contest may well impact policymaking timelines, both candidates, Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss have committed to improving transport links. Therefore, the Bill is likely to be published following summer recess and be supported by the next prime minister.