Rail freight

20.11.19

Rail Forum Midlands launches its General Election manifesto

The Rail Forum Midlands (RFM) has launched its new manifesto ahead of the 2019 General Election, outlining the four major asks it has seen from its members for the rail sector supply chain in the run up to next month’s election.

The RFM were established over 25 years ago, and represent more than 200 rail companies spanning the entire breadth of the rail sector supply chain – giving the sector in the Midlands both a regional focus and a national reach.

As part of their role in supporting and championing the rail sector supply chain from the Midlands, and assisting them in improving reliability, innovation, growth and productivity, the RFM has outlined four key ‘asks’ of the next government:

  1. Commitment to rail playing a major role in the UK government’s decarbonisation and clean air agendas.
    • A long-term rolling programme of electrification of key InterCity and Commuter routes, including the Midland Main Line.
    • Support for the accelerated deployment of battery and hydrogen trains to help decarbonise the UK network by 2040 (2035 in Scotland).
    • Strategic Investment in gauge-clearance and additional capacity to support rail freight growth.
  2. Commitment to completing HS2 and Midlands Engine Rail in full, together with other regional priorities – e.g. Northern Powerhouse Rail and Crossrail 2.
    • In order to increase much needed rail capacity, reduce road congestion, shorten journey times and improve air quality, it is vital that there is investment in new rail infrastructure.
    • The Midlands and wider UK supply chain is well placed to help deliver these critical projects that will help increase Britain’s productivity and stimulate employment.
    • HS2 will also generate much needed economic and housing growth around new and existing stations across the Midlands.
  3. Commitment to publish a long-term plan for infrastructure renewals and enhancements, as well as a future rolling stock strategy.
    • Creating capacity and putting an end to ‘peaks and troughs’ in the rail supply industry, increasing investment, retaining skills and ensuring UK competitiveness.
    • Enabling the railway industry to meet the 2040 decarbonisation target as well as delivering value for fare and taxpayers.
  4. Commitment to transparent, auditable targets for UK content with progress being published annually.
    • Ensuring local content targets are included, and given sufficient weight in, tender assessment criteria will support our strategic UK supply chain, allowing investment in new technologies, innovation and skills as well as providing a stable supply chain that has the confidence to seek overseas markets.

Rail is a key driving force of economic growth and development around the UK, but particularly in the Midlands. With an estimated 4.8m passengers journeys being completed daily, and more than 75m tonnes of freight goods transported across the rail network annually, the Midlands’ role as a central connection between North and South is vital.

Similarly, the rail industry offers a more sustainable mode of transport for goods and passengers, but for further innovation and development to occur the rail supply sector must be able to forward-plan beyond the upcoming election.

READ THE RFM MANIFESTO HERE: RFM GE2019

CEO of the RFM, Elaine Clark, explained: “The rail supply chain needs clarity and certainty in order to be best placed to respond to the future demands of government and key clients. As we move to a more devolved approach to planning and delivery this is more crucial than ever.

“Regardless of the outcome of the election rail has a vital role to play; driving future economic growth, underpinning our environmental ambitions and ensuring we maintain a safe and reliable railway for future generations.

“The industry has much more to offer and our succinct manifesto will encourage investment, innovation, skills development and value for fares and taxpayers.”

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