RIA responds to the publication of the HLOS and SoFA
The Department for Transport (DfT) has today published the High-Level Output Specification (HLOS) and Statement of Funds Available (SoFA) for the railway in England and Wales for April 2024 to March 2029, Control Period 7 (CP7).
This commits to £44bn of spending through Network Rail over the five year period. A direct comparison with the previous five year funding settlement (CP6) cannot be made because of differences in what is included. However, this new funding settlement appears to allow for a small increase in expenditure on Operations, Maintenance and Renewals (OMR) of the railway, in real terms.
The HLOS recognises the importance of a resilient and productive supply chain that invests in skills and innovation. The Secretary of State has stated an expectation that Network Rail must work collaboratively with the supply chain and exercise its role as an effective and engaged client, demonstrating a commitment to being ‘open for business’.
Commenting on the SoFA and HLOS, Railway Industry Association (RIA) Chief Executive, Darren Caplan, said:
“RIA welcomes this commitment from the UK Government, which - in difficult economic times - appears to mean Network Rail can continue maintaining and renewing the railway in CP7 with similar funding levels to today’s. Rail suppliers will clearly play a significant role in working with Network Rail to ensure the programme of work is delivered in the five years from April 2024.
“With passenger numbers reaching as high as 99% of pre-Covid levels, as they did on Friday 18 November, it is clear the national railway will need this investment to meet both current and future demand.
“Nevertheless, at a time of significant inflation it is unlikely the funding settlement will cover all the investment needed. This makes it all the more essential to recognise the role the supply sector can play. We therefore welcome the commitment in the HLOS for Network Rail to work collaboratively with the supply chain, a consistent ask of RIA and our members in recent years.
“To ensure suppliers can help build world-class rail as cost-effectively as possible, it is essential that along with appropriate levels of funding they are given the certainty and visibility of the work pipeline that they need. This helps rail businesses plan for the people, skills and equipment they need to deliver and get best value for taxpayers.
“We now await Network Rail’s regional business plans, and the work of the Office of Rail and Road, to establish which work will go ahead, in which parts of the country. It will be particularly important to collaborate to avoid ‘boom and bust’ between and within Control Periods. RIA will work with its members, the Government and Network Rail, to understand the implications of this funding settlement and work together on delivering the CP7 workload as efficiently and effectively as possible.”