Fares, rail policy and DfT news

06.12.18

Cheaper digital signalling, more exports and better data-sharing: DfT launches the Rail Sector Deal

The government has today announced the new Rail Sector Deal in order to help the government work better with the rail industry, reduce the cost of infrastructure, encourage greater use of digital technologies, and double the UK’s rail industry exports by 2025.

The DfT has called the new deal a key milestone in the government’s modern Industrial Strategy, which will help increase the exchange of ideas between the rail industry and other sectors, predict problems on the network and solve them.

Improved engagement between industry and government will result in a supply chain that better understands future demand, the DfT argued.

The industrial strategy minister, Richard Harrington, told RTM that the Rail Sector Deal focuses on achieving transformational deals with the industry away from London, and declared that the DfT “won’t deal with industry” unless it speaks with one voice – which he claims already tends to be the case.

Announcing the launch of the deal, rail minister Andrew Jones said: “Since their invention nearly two centuries ago, the railways have brought people across the country closer together and helped to drive our industries.

“The Rail Sector Deal will help us go even further, enabling the industry to harness new digital technologies to improve the experience of passengers and create well-paid, highly-skilled jobs.”

Overall, the deal’s key goals are:

  • Significantly reduce digital signalling costs by 2025;
  • Double rail exports by 2025;
  • Help government work better with industry and strengthen its relationship with the supply chain to boost confidence in the pipeline of work;
  • Support apprenticeships and increase awareness amongst children of the opportunities in the field;
  • Establish a data-sharing platform to support innovation.

The DfT explained that the deal will help the industry reduce the cost of building the railway, support the sector to increase its exports, attract small businesses to the market, and encourage young people to join the rail workforce.

In the foreword to the report, transport secretary Chris Grayling said the private sector will have a key role to play in making the deal happen, and promised that it will help deliver on the aims of the upcoming rail review recommendations.

The industry reacts

Anna Delvecchio, the commercial account director at Amey and RSG sector deal co-lead, commented: “Developing the deal has been an example of cross-industry and government collaboration at its best.

“It sets out a well-defined strategy to provide greater improvement to customers, using digital technologies and data as a catalyst to increase productivity and drive innovation.”

Her colleague Philip Hoare, who is also CEO of Atkins UK & Europe, added that the deal offers a great opportunity for “sustained whole-sector collaboration as ‘one railway.’”

The chief executive of the Railway Industry Association, Darren Caplan, welcomed the sector deal, which he agreed will “help the rail industry and government deliver together a world-class railway.”

“Members of the RIA team played a significant part in helping to drive this deal forward, and we look forward to participating further to help implement the deal, particularly its sustainable procurement and Digital Railway pillars,” he said.

“It is an exciting time to be working in the rail industry, and the Rail Sector Deal will help the UK’s railway deliver even more for UK plc, its economy and connectivity, in the years ahead.”

Image credit - Chalabala

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