Autumn Statement 2023 – RIA response

22 November 2023

Today’s Autumn Statement from the Chancellor Jeremy Hunt set out his economic vision for the country for the coming year up to an election. On rail the Autumn Statement says: “The Government is also continuing to progress its commitment to deliver East West Rail, with a statutory consultation due next year and, as part of Network North, has committed to providing £2.5 billion for a West Yorkshire mass transit system.”

Commenting on the Autumn Statement, Darren Caplan, Chief Executive of the Railway Industry Association, said: “It is positive that the Government has restated its commitment for East West Rail and indicated support for West Yorkshire Tram. Given Chancellor Jeremy Hunt was an advocate for the full HS2 scheme, now that Phase 2 has been summarily cancelled by the Government – damaging railway suppliers’ confidence – we and rail suppliers want to see tangible progress in delivery on any schemes it takes forward.

“However, this Autumn Statement was clearly a missed opportunity to confirm wider funding for rail, whether from the plethora of schemes in the new ‘Network North’ proposals, the Rail Network Enhancements Pipeline, the Integrated Rail Plan for the North & Midlands, or a rolling stock pipeline. Given we were told the funding for HS2 Phase 2 was to be reallocated to other more immediate transport schemes – and with a General Election likely to be less than a year away – it would be good to now hear the Government’s plans to push on with delivery of the rail work in its various plans.

“This ongoing uncertainty across rail investment is genuinely harming UK suppliers, who are halting recruitment, looking overseas for work – meaning skills are being lost – and seeing jobs and factories jeopardised. So we strongly urge the Government to fund and push on with a clear and visible pipeline of work, whether related to infrastructure or rolling stock, which not only means an enhanced railway in the future but also better value for money for the taxpayer.”

Notes to Editors
  1. Read the Autumn Statement 2023 in full here
  2. In its submission to the Autumn Statement 2023, RIA called for:
    A clear Government policy on leveraging private investment
    Review Treasury borrowing rules to ensure fair balance between private finance and public borrowing
    Pursue more pathfinder projects, leading to standardised approaches
    Undertake intelligent market engagement and a targeted review of procurement practices