Rail industry: Welcome words from the Minister, action now required to deliver on the Government’s own guidance on commercial pipelines

9 May 2019

The Railway Industry Association (RIA), the national voice of the rail supply community, has responded to comments made by the Rail Minister Andrew Jones MP in his first session before the Transport Select Committee yesterday.

Darren Caplan, Chief Executive of the Railway Industry Association (RIA), said: “In the evidence given by Rail Minister Andrew Jones MP to the Transport Select Committee, he spoke encouragingly about the need for a visible, stable, pipeline of work for the companies that build, maintain and enhance the UK rail network. The Railway Industry Association and its members strongly agree with this sentiment and welcome his words. 

“However, we are concerned that whilst the Minister’s comments indicate a Government seeking to head in the right direction, there has not been enough action in delivering an environment where rail businesses can confidently plan for investing in the network. The Government’s own guidelines on commercial procurement, published in its ‘Outsourcing Playbook’ in February, was very clear that all Government Departments, including the DfT, should openly publish their commercial pipelines to help suppliers understand long term demand for their products and services.

“Yet on rail enhancements, there is little or no visibility of which projects are being considered within the new decision-making pipeline process – other than those already allocated in Control Period 5 as part of the so-called ‘Hendy Tail’.  On market-led proposals, there is little information about which schemes the Government wants to take forward and the timeframe by which it would like projects to be delivered. On electrification, if the Government wants to help rail suppliers deliver significant cost-savings and achieve its aim to decarbonise the network by 2040, it needs to commit to a programme of further electrification.

“This lack of forward visibility in enhancements, market-let proposals and electrification, makes it incredibly difficult for rail companies who work in these areas to invest in people, plant and processes. Simply, they need to know which rail schemes the Government wants to take forward and the timeframe by which it would like these projects to be delivered, so they can plan accordingly.

“So we hope that the acknowledgement of these issues made by the Rail Minister before the Committee will spur action, helping rail businesses deliver even more for passengers, freight users, and the economy, as we all seek to work together to build a world-class railway in the years ahead”.

Notes to Editors
  1. The Government’s Outsourcing Playbook, published in February 2019, says that there is now a “new expectation that all central government departments will publish their commercial pipelines” and that these changes “will help suppliers to understand the government’s long-term demand for services and prepare themselves to respond to contract opportunities”. The Playbook can be found here.
  2. The Transport Select Committee session with Rail Minister Andrew Jones can be found here.
  3. About RIA: The Railway Industry Association (RIA) is the voice of the UK rail supply community. We help to grow a sustainable, high-performing, railway supply industry, and to export UK rail expertise and products. We promote and represent our members’ interests to policy makers, clients and other stakeholders in the UK and overseas. RIA has 280+ companies in membership in a sector that contributes £36 billion in economic growth and £11 billion in tax revenue each year, as well as employing 600,000 people—more than the workforce of Birmingham. It is also a growing industry with the number of rail journeys expected to double over the next 25 years and freight set to grow significantly too. RIA’s membership is active across the whole of railway supply, covering a diverse range of products and services and including both multi-national companies and SMEs (60% by number). RIA works to promote the importance of the rail system to UK plc, to help export UK expertise around the globe and to share best practice and innovation across the industry.

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