Civils and stations

28.11.18

Private sector deal ‘very close to fruition,’ industrial strategy minister says

The government’s private sector deal with the rail industry is “very close to fruition,” the industry strategy minister has said.

Speaking at the Railway Industry Association parliamentary reception in Westminster last night, Richard Harrington, who has been in the role since last year, said the deal would be the first time a true partnership has been forged between the government and the rail industry.

Harrington explained to delegates: “The sector deal is very near to fruition, and these sector deals are very critical— because this is the first time I think there’s a real partnership between government and industry.

“Not from a position of customer and producer, or supplier, or all of those things, but it is a true partnership.”

Harrington also floated out the idea of creating a one-stop-shop type of railway “business park,” hosting a variety of businesses from the sector to create an integrated rail sector focused on driving improvement throughout the industry.

“I’d like to get more and more interesting and innovative things to do with rail,” he said.

“For example, if we had a test track in this country, not just a test track because a test track is just a huge field with railway lines on it connected up— but imagine the kind of business park and the kinds of businesses that would cluster around it, to become all rail-connected.

“So, we have to think very creatively, and we have to think what gives this country an edge so that instead of being a market taker, that we start to produce products that are saleable, not only in this country, but all over the world.”

During the parliamentary reception last night shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald suggested extending the industry’s control period by two years to give the supply chain greater time for planning.

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