Rail service improvements and disruptions


DfT ‘won’t deal with rail industry’ unless it speaks with one voice, industrial strategy minister says

The government’s Rail Sector Deal will focus on achieving transformational deals with a joined-up rail industry away from London, the minister for the Industrial Strategy has told RTM.

Visiting companies Resonate and Ricardo Rail in Derby this week, Richard Harrington said the Rail Sector Deal, launched today, signals a new partnership between sector providers and the government, and outlined what the government is looking for in future deals with the rail industry.

Harrington, who had revealed that the Rail Sector Deal was “close to fruition” last week at the Railway Industry Association parliamentary reception, said the government “will not deal” with the rail industry unless it continues to organise itself as a collective body, and that the locations of the deals are a key factor in future dealings.

The Rail Sector Deal will officially launch this afternoon during a reception at the Institution of Civil Engineers. While the DfT has not revealed further details yet, it promised that the deal will set out a plan to boost efficiency, improve journeys, and increase the sector’s capability to trade internationally.

Highlighting the key demands the government is looking for in future dealings, Harrington told RTM: “First of all is place: we have to focus on transforming the places where people live and work by backing businesses and building infrastructure, not just in London and the south east but across every part of the country. Take Derby, for example: the region has expertise in highly skilled areas such as IT and digital rail.”

He also spoke of the need for the industry to collaborate with the government using a joined-up voice so its message is clear. “We will not deal with an industry unless an industry organises itself in a body, because otherwise we’re spending all of our time with this company, that company… They’re all competing with each other, it’s very difficult for us to know,” the minister explained.

“It has to be proper organisation with industry, and usually they’ve got their act together to do that—rail is a very good example of it. And when you speak to people in the industry, there’s companies in it that compete with each other, but they realise that the development is for the common good.”

Harrington added that the government will be more preferential towards more long-term, revolutionary-type deals that will propel the industry forward.

“We’re looking for deals that are transformational,” he said. “We’re not interested in little nuances. In rail, for example, digital technology will transform the industry, and we hope it will make the UK become the market leader in the world, just as in a different generation it was for manufacturing.”

The industrial strategy minister went on to say the deal has been a culmination of marrying up the government’s demands with what the rail sector can deliver.

“This is the industry saying, ‘This is what we’re prepared to do,’ but government has to say, ‘This is what we’re prepared to do.’ So whilst it’s not in the form of a legal contract quite in the same way as you would expect, it’s all subject to value for money,” he noted.

“So, projects that will be announced still have to go through the hoops, making sure that from the taxpayers’ view it is value for money. Some people find this very slow and bureaucratic—which we have to be, because we’re dealing with many millions of pounds worth of taxpayers’ money—but I think it’s exciting.”


There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment


rail technology magazine tv

more videos >

latest rail news

Government’s role in new passenger-centric railway ‘will have to change’, says Williams Review lead

21/03/2019Government’s role in new passenger-centric railway ‘will have to change’, says Williams Review lead

The man leading the Williams Rail Review has warned that the government’s role in the UK railways “will have... more >
Government promises to look ‘very carefully’ at £218m bid for second Chelmsford station

21/03/2019Government promises to look ‘very carefully’ at £218m bid for second Chelmsford station

The government will look “very carefully” at a £218m funding bid for a new railway station in Chelmsfo... more >
Carillion-bound boss appointed to lead Kier

20/03/2019Carillion-bound boss appointed to lead Kier

Kier has appointed Andrew Davies as its new chief executive, two months after the building contractor ousted Hayden Murs... more >

editor's comment

23/01/2018Out with the old...

Despite a few disappointing policy announcements, especially for the electrification aficionados amongst us, 2017 was, like Darren Caplan writes on page 20, a year generally marked by positive news for the rail industry. We polished off the iconic Ordsall Chord (p32), hit some solid milestones on Thameslink (p40), progressed on ambitious rolling stock orders (p16), and finally started moving forward on HS2 (p14) ‒ paving the way for a New Ye... read more >

last word

Encouraging youngsters to be safe on the railway

Encouraging youngsters to be safe on the railway

This summer, Arriva Group's CrossCountry and the Scout Association joined to launch a new partnership to promote rail safety among young people. Chris Leech MBE, business community manager at the... more > more last word articles >

'the sleepers' daily blog

The West Midlands 30-year strategy

19/03/2019The West Midlands 30-year strategy

Malcolm Holmes, executive director of West Midlands Rail Executive (WMRE), outlines the West Midlands Rail Investment Strategy 2018-2047. The West Midlands Rail Executive was formed three years ago to give local authorities a direct influence over the award of the region’s main rail franchise. Working with the Department for Transpo... more >
read more blog posts from 'the sleeper' >


26-30 Railcard: taking advantage of opportunities

19/03/201926-30 Railcard: taking advantage of opportunities

After a nine-month national trial, the rail industry launched its seventh National Railcard for 26-30-year-olds on 2 January 2019. Rail Delivery ... more >
Caledonian Sleeper: a railway icon re-imagined

19/03/2019Caledonian Sleeper: a railway icon re-imagined

The world-renowned Caledonian Sleeper, due to begin operations at the end of spring 2019, completed its first Scotland to London journey earlier ... more >
East West Rail: the next steps

19/03/2019East West Rail: the next steps

In January, five route options for the central section of East West Rail were published as part of a public consultation on the next phase of the... more >
Rail's role in transit-orientated developments

19/03/2019Rail's role in transit-orientated developments

Jonathan Bray, director at the Urban Transport Group (UTG), argues that transit-oriented developments are the future – and that rail has a ... more >

rail industry focus

View all News


Women in rail - is the industry on the right track?

12/03/2019Women in rail - is the industry on the right track?

RTM sits down with Samantha Smith, sole female member of the TransPennine Route Upgrade Alliance Leadership Team, to find out more about encourag... more >