The Government has moved the decision-making process for rail infrastructure improvements, known as enhancements, to a new pipeline approach, where individual projects progress through different stages before coming to market. This is known as the Rail Network Enhancements Pipeline (RNEP).
The UK rail network needs enhancements to increase rail capacity, improve journey times, and generate further economic growth. The Government also has goals to decarbonise the rail network, which can only be achieved through enhancement projects.
However, the new RNEP has led to reduced visibility of upcoming work for rail businesses:
• There are no new construction-ready schemes in the new Control Period, CP6, pipeline, other than those already scheduled and over-hanging from the previous Control Period, CP5 – this means there will be a significant hiatus before any new projects come to market;
• There will only be an announcement about new projects once a project has progressed from one RNEP stage to another, preventing advance planning;
• There is no time limit for each stage of the RNEP – so a project could take any amount of time to clear the pipeline; and
• The decision could be taken to cancel a project at any stage in the pipeline.
This uncertainty will clearly have a negative impact on the UK’s rail industry - reducing jobs, investment and the ability of businesses to plan for upcoming work. We urge the Government to publish the projects contained within the RNEP as soon as possible.