3 March 2021
Today Chancellor Rishi Sunak MP presented the Spring Budget, setting out a number of policies as the UK looks to an economic recovery post-Coronavirus.
Darren Caplan, Chief Executive of the Railway Industry Association, said: “It is good to see the Chancellor clarify a number of the Government’s plans for infrastructure, including the establishment of a UK Infrastructure Bank based in Leeds and the £4.8 billion ‘Levelling Up’ Fund opening for infrastructure around the UK. It is also positive to see funding announced for test track facilities at a new Global Centre for Rail Excellence in Wales – the UK vitally requires more test track facilities, and the Centre will help deliver a new cluster for the industry in the region, supporting jobs and investment. We would hope that all rail businesses – whether related to rolling stock or infrastructure, and whether large or SME – benefit in some way from these announcements.
“However the Chancellor himself said in his speech that “for business, certainty matters”, and with today marking 500 days since the Rail Network Enhancement Pipeline was last published, we would once again urge the Government to provide the rail sector with visibility of upcoming rail schemes, so crucial to the UK developing a world-class network for the future. This is not about seeking more budget; rail suppliers simply need the updated pipeline of rail upgrades to be published, along with the Integrated Rail Plan and the Transport Decarbonisation Plan, to help them build up capabilities and skills, support investment and, ultimately support jobs at this very difficult time for everyone.
“With every pound spent on the railway generating £2.20 GVA in the wider economy, being open about – and progressing – the rail enhancements pipeline not only benefits the railway industry but also ensures the UK can deliver new rail infrastructure much more efficiently and cost-effectively for the taxpayer, helping the country to build back better following the Coronavirus pandemic."