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VOTE #RAIL2050: Post the General Election, the rail industry needs a 30-year vision to build world-class, customer-focused, rail at home and abroad

VOTE #RAIL2050: Post the General Election, the rail industry needs a 30-year vision to build world-class, customer-focused, rail at home and abroad

Darren Caplan, Chief Executive and David Tonkin, Chairman | Railway Industry Association

2 min read Partner content

Darren Caplan, Chief Executive and David Tonkin, Chairman of the RIA ask the political parties to consider RAIL 2050 as they develop transport policies in their manifestos, and to commit to delivering on the railway industry’s long-term agenda once the new Government is in place.


Over recent years, UK rail has been a success story, despite some of the negative reporting we sometimes see. In the last 25 years, passenger numbers have doubled, freight has increased by 80%, safety has been maintained, and the sector annually generates over £36bn GDP and supports some 600,000 jobs.

Yet, there is much uncertainty about the future of rail. A recent ComRes poll for the Railway Industry Association (RIA) of 174 rail business leaders showed that more than half, 53%, do not expect the industry to grow in the coming year whilst 28% expect the industry to contract. And two in five (39%) did not expect their business to grow, with 18% saying their business is likely to contract.

Rail leaders are approaching the New Year with trepidation because of the uncertainty caused by the Williams Review into the structure of the industry, the Oakervee Review into HS2, Network Rail’s current reorganisation, inconsistency in rail funding for both track and train and, of course, Brexit.

That is why, with a General Election in full swing, RIA has launched RAIL 2050, a manifesto arguing that whoever wins the vote needs to look beyond short-term electoral cycles and develop a 30-year plan to build world-class, customer-focused, rail at home and abroad.

RAIL2050 asks for:

A long term, 30-year strategy that promotes private investment;

The smoothing of 'boom and bust' in rail infrastructure and rolling stock investment, and improvement to the visibility of upcoming enhancement upgrade projects;

A better balance in the train fleet between new and upgraded trains;

Decarbonisation of the railway, through a rolling programme of electrification for intensively used lines and by using battery, hydrogen, bimode and trimode technology for other lines;

Digitalisation of the railway through deployment of modern digital signalling technology;

A commitment to major rail projects including HS2, TransPennine Route Upgrade, Northern Powerhouse Rail, East West Rail, Midlands Rail Hub and Crossrail 2, amongst others;

The Government needs to work with the rail industry to set priorities for innovation and collaboration between rail organisations and needs to consider the role of the rail industry as a key UK exporter, when developing new trade agreements.

To see the RAIL2050 Manifesto in full HERE

We ask the political parties to consider RAIL 2050 as they develop transport policies in their manifestos, and to commit to delivering on the railway industry’s long-term agenda once the new Government is in place.

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