Transport MPs call on Government to end rail ‘boom and bust’ funding and to support electrification

18 January 2019

Yesterday, in a Westminster Hall Debate called by Transport Select Committee Chair Lilian Greenwood MP, a cross-party group of MPs called for more consistent funding for rail businesses and a visible pipeline of future enhancements to the rail network. MPs also urged the Government to reconsider the possible electrification of intensively used railway lines in order to decarbonise the network by 2040.

In response, the Rail Minister Andrew Jones MP said he understood concerns the Railway Industry Association (RIA) had raised around the ‘boom & bust’ funding cycles for rail infrastructure and would be working with the industry to smooth out workloads for businesses. On electrification, he cited RIA’s work and said the Government would consider schemes where “it provided passenger benefits and value for money”.

Darren Caplan, Chief Executive of the Railway Industry Association (RIA) said: “We welcome Transport Select Committee Chair Lilian Greenwood’s useful and insightful Westminster Hall debate, which once again highlighted key concerns of the Railway Industry Association and the rail supply community to the Government.

“Crucially, the debate identified the need to smooth out ‘boom and bust’ cycles in the five yearly funding Control Periods for rail infrastructure. ‘Boom and bust’ increases costs by up to 30%, damages business and investment, reduces employment, and jeopardises the ability of SMEs to survive in the rail industry. It is encouraging that in debate the Rail Minister, Andrew Jones, responded he understands the need to deal with this issue. Similarly, MPs spoke about the need for a visible, long term pipeline on enhancements so suppliers can plan for future rail projects – we strongly urge the Government to deliver on this.

“The Westminster Hall Debate also saw MPs asking the Government to keep rail electrification ‘on the table’, as it is clear electrification remains the optimal form of traction for an intensively used railway. It is vital that the Government works with RIA as it publishes its Electrification Cost Challenge report soon, to see how the costs of electrification can be reduced, and ultimately how electrification can help deliver on the Government’s policy to decarbonise rail by 2040”.

Notes to Editors

  1. The Hansard from the Westminster Hall Debate can be found here.
  2. 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 240+ 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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