The Railway Industry Association (RIA) has called on the UK government to provide more certainty on rail restructuring, enhancements, major projects, and long-term funding plans. To contribute to Britain's economic growth, the rail industry needs to be adequately resourced and the potential for private investment unleashed.
“UK rail is well positioned to support the Government in its mission to boost economic growth, with the industry contributing £43bn of GVA, supporting 710,000 jobs, providing £14bn in tax revenues to the Treasury, and generating £2.50 in the wider economy for every pound spent on the railway sector,” commented RIA’s Chief Executive Darren Caplan.
The RIA has proposed several steps to help unlock the potential of the UK rail industry. “By doing so, the Government would not only help to unleash the potential of rail to help drive economic growth, it would also provide a boost to connectivity and capacity, which the country is going to need in future if it is to link and level up communities across the UK,” said Darren Caplan. The RIA proposes the following concrete steps:
- The RIA considers that the timing of the restructuring of Great British Railways (GBR) needs to be confirmed. While Britain has a new Transport Secretary and Rail Minister to settle into their new roles, the rail industry needs confirmation of when and how the new Government intends to establish GBR. If the current ambiguity persists there is a risk that works on the railway will be disrupted.
- The Government would publish the Rail Network Enhancement Pipeline (RNEP). Although it was promised that this pipeline would be updated annually, it has been almost three years since the last iteration was published.
- The Government should confirm the timetable and status of major rail projects such as HS2, East West Rail, and Northern Powerhouse Rail.
- The rail industry needs certainty on the financing of long-term investments until the end of the decade. The Government should confirm the funding available for Control Period 7 (CP7) as soon as possible.
The need to modernize the vision for rail freight in the UK is also being expressed by Rail Operations UK and Fishbone. The companies have recently written a paper entitled “Rail Reform and why now is the time for a Freight Revolution”. The paper focuses on dynamic but sustainable solutions that can deliver increased economic, environmental, and social benefits for customers and the wider transport industry, and identifies key priorities that would revolutionize the rail freight industry.