RIA welcome Chancellor's commitment to infrastructure spending and rail investment
The Railway Industry Association, the voice of the UK rail supply community, has responded to the Chancellor’s Budget.
Darren Caplan, Chief Executive of the Railway Industry Association, said: “It has been a particularly difficult time for this Budget, with coronavirus rightly being the Government’s number one priority. Looking to the long term, though, it is clearly welcome that Chancellor Rishi Sunak has re-committed the Government to infrastructure spending and rail investment, including backing major projects like Midlands Rail Hub, HS2, Northern Powerhouse Rail and others. We also look forward to seeing the upcoming National Infrastructure Strategy, which we encourage the Government to publish as soon as possible.
“From the railway industry’s perspective, rail suppliers are excited and ready to deliver this ambitious programme of investment to ‘level-up’ opportunities and unlock the full potential of UK rail. However, as we set out in our submission to the Budget last month, there are five ‘crunch points’ which could act as a barrier and hamper the sector’s ability to deliver the world class railway everyone would like to see.
“These ‘crunch points’ are renewals, rolling stock, enhancements, decarbonisation and digitalisation. Investment in each of these areas can be characterised in terms of ‘boom and bust’, with some not ramping up until the middle of the 2020s meaning a real shortfall in the next five years, when rail businesses need to be boosting capabilities and investing in people to deliver.
“So we urge the Government to work with the Railway Industry Association and our members to find solutions to these crunch points – for example, by bringing work forward from CP7 into CP6 – and to smooth out ‘boom and bust’ investment so that we can continue to develop customer-focused rail in the UK and to increase UK plc’s offer abroad.”