Rail service improvements and disruptions

28.11.18

Shadow transport secretary McDonald considers extending control periods to 7 years

The shadow transport secretary has suggested increasing the current spending period length by an extra two years to give the supply industry greater time for planning.

Andy McDonald said that increasing the control period length, which is currently five years, would “infinitely improve” the supply chain’s ability to plan for the new spending period, and would ensure a smoother process in the public sector deal.

Speaking at the Rail Industry Association’s parliamentary reception last night, McDonald also suggested the possibility of turning the control periods into rolling dates that can be reset, so it is only two to three years before they expire.

“The rail supply chain needs to be able to plan strategically, and invest in equipment, skills, and facilities, and to do this, you need a clear and long-term investment pipeline,” McDonald said.

“I think we should consider extending control period settlements to seven years, and perhaps turn them into rolling periods, so that they’re reset to two or three years before they expire.

“So, that way you can infinitely improve people’s situations in terms of their ability to plan. In addition, rail needs much better economic regulation to drive down the costs and boost productivity.”

McDonald added that the industry should also pay attention to the economic and political benefits of investing in rail repairs.

“Of course it’s great to innovate and create new things, but in infrastructure, particularly rail, it’s a fact that repairing things is often trickier than making them. There’s a political-economic point here and it’s essential—and it’s easier to find money for new projects sometimes than to fix the things that we’ve got.

“However there are significant economic benefits in investing in repairs, and we do need to be much better at coordinating maintenance renewals and enhancements, to achieve maximum synergy between them. To achieve all of that, rail does need a guiding mind.”

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