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Spring Budget 2023 consultation deadline day – RIA makes submission on behalf of the rail supply industry

Railway Industry Association

3 min read Partner content

The Railway Industry Association (RIA), the voice of the rail industry, has today submitted a number of recommendations on behalf of the rail supply industry to HM Treasury, on the day its consultation on the Spring Budget closes. The Spring Budget is due to be announced by Chancellor Jeremy Hunt on Wednesday 15 March.

In the submission, RIA outlines six key actions for the Government – ranging from investment in pipeline, major projects, rail decarbonisation and innovation, through to seeking more clarity on rail reform and supporting rail exports. Taken together, these actions would provide the industry with the collaboration and support it needs to deliver transformational rail projects, jobs and economic growth, whilst delivering best value for the taxpayer.

RIA’s six key Budget ‘actions’ are:

  • Commit to investment pipeline certainty and transparency. Certainty and visibility of future investment plans generates best value for taxpayers and investors. It is crucial for making sure the industry gets the right skills and equipment in the right places to deliver efficiently.
  • Invest in major infrastructure projects. Major rail projects are transformational for the communities they connect, wider economy, and in transitioning the UK to clean transport. They also support high skilled jobs during construction. Recent Government commitments to HS2, East West Rail and Northern Powerhouse Rail are welcome. Other major schemes should be a question of ‘when, not if’: the UK will need this capacity, and early and consistent commitment is the way to secure best value for money and catalytic benefits from the economy.
  • Accelerate decarbonisation and green growth. On the current trajectory of investment, the UK will not meet its legal obligations on Net Zero. Starting a steady programme of investment now will reduce more carbon sooner, and be much more cost-effective than investing later.
  • Get on with rail reform. The industry still does not have clarity on Great British Railways or wider strategic direction. Lack of clarity about the structure of the railway can deter investment, and prevent rail from attracting the best people to key positions.
  • Unlock innovation. Innovation is essential, not just for boosting efficiency and productivity, but for the railway to rise to challenges such as climate resilience. There is significant progress in research and development, however a step change in behaviour and approach is needed to ensure adoption of new technologies.
  • Grow UK rail exports. UK rail has a global reputation, so there is great potential to grow rail exports, boosting UK trade and also increasing resilience of the UK supply chain e.g. creating new SME jobs. The Global Market Study conducted by European trade association UNIFE last autumn forecasts rail markets to grow by 3% every year to 2027.

Commenting on the submission, RIA Chief Executive Darren Caplan said:  “In what are challenging economic times, the railway industry is well-placed to play a major role in creating economic growth and jobs, ensuring the UK reaches Net Zero and levelling-up all parts of the country.

“Adopting the Railway Industry Association's six Budget ‘actions’ for Government – which were drafted in consultation with RIA members – would not only greatly enhance UK connectivity, but also provide wider economic benefits. UK rail contributes £43 billion GVA in economic growth, 710,000 jobs and £14 billion in tax revenue each year, and for every £1 spent on rail, £2.50 of income is generated in the wider economy. RIA’s six ‘actions’ would therefore not only benefit the railway industry but would also help deliver growth for UK plc.

“We urge Chancellor Jeremy Hunt and the Government more widely to consider these six key actions in the weeks ahead of the Spring Budget and we ask for their adoption, ultimately helping unleash the full potential of the rail industry and boost the UK economy”.

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