Railway Industry responds to Keith Williams' evidence to the Transport Select Committee

28 January 2019

Keith Williams, of the Williams Rail Review, gave evidence today to the Transport Select Committee. In his evidence, Williams confirmed it was likely his report would recommend a restructure of UK rail, with more focus on the customer and less day-to-day control by the Department for Transport.

Responding, Darren Caplan, Chief Executive of the Railway Industry Association, said: "It is clear from Keith Williams' evidence to the Transport Select Committee that he is developing recommendations which, if implemented, will see significant changes to how the UK's railways are structured and run in the future. In particular, we welcome and agree with his commitment to a thirty-year vision for our rail network, that will help the industry to plan and implement improvements.

"The Railway Industry Association and its members are clear that - whilst it is right to consider the best operating model for the railway - the supplier voice also needs to heard if we are together build a world-class railway delivering for passenger and freight customers, as well as taxpayers, in the future. Further, there should not be any hiatus in the work required to maintain, renew and enhance the railways whilst Williams' recommendations are implemented.

"We also agree with Williams in supporting a structure where the Department for Transport, its Ministers and officials, are responsible and accountable for the strategic direction of the railway, but with rail professionals around the country responsible for implementation. Under this structure, we urge both Williams and the DfT to focus on smoothing out ‘boom and bust’ in work flows to reduce the cost of the railway by up to 30%, ensure that recently published upgrade projects progress efficiently through the Rail Network Enhancements Pipeline, and to ensure rail suppliers have support to become even more innovative, efficient and collaborative - helping all who use our rail system."

Notes to Editors
  1. The Transport Select Committee Session with Keith Williams 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 290+ 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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