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Suppliers promise to work with government to prosper post-Brexit

Rail suppliers will work with the government to ensure that the industry in the UK continues to prosper when Britain exits the EU, the Rail Industry Association (RIA) has stated.

Two days after Theresa May triggered Article 50 – formally commencing the process of Brexit – RIA has made the promise to work with the government to make sure that the rail industry can still engage in “frictionless,” trade with EU companies after the UK leaves Europe.

In a statement, RIA chief executive Darren Caplan said that Brexit represented both “challenges and opportunities,” for the industry as a whole. 

“Rail makes a substantial contribution to the UK economy,” he said. “Over the last 20 years, passenger numbers have doubled and freight volumes increased by 70%, enabling the productive potential of the UK economy to increase by £11.3bn.”

“In the next 30 years, passenger numbers are set to double again and freight set to grow further. The rail supply chain alone will directly employ well over 125,000 people, with £90bn already in the domestic rail infrastructure pipeline.”

Caplan also stated that the RIA will seek to be specifically included in any Brexit agreement negotiated and ensure that UK railways sit alongside automotive and aerospace as one of the Department for Exiting the EU’s top transport sectors.

“Additionally, we will work with the UK government to maintain trade in as frictionless a manner as possible, for example on standards and tariffs; and we will seek to ensure our industry continues to have access to an adequate supply of skilled labour from the UK and around the world, regardless of the outcome of these negotiations,” he said.

Challenges and opportunities of Brexit

RIA’s statement comes after a Network Rail senior executive commented in November last year that rail investment would be safe regardless of the UK’s position in or out of the UK.

Writing in RTM’s Feb/March edition, Gordon Wakeford, industry chair of the Rail Supply Group (RSG) also echoed the RIA’s message. He said that the work of Brexit had provoked the government to publish their Industrial Strategy, a plan that was “clearly arriving at the perfect time and presents a huge opportunity for us”.

Other industry leaders have warned that there could be some drawbacks to Brexit, however. In July 2016, head of the national Audit Office Sir Amyas Morse warned that balancing HS2 with other major infrastructure projects would prove challenging after Brexit.

Morse also raised concern that the high-speed network could “come to a halt under its own weight,” going on to say that civil servants had been set a “Herculean task,” that was unlikely to be delivered on time.


Mike Guerra   31/03/2017 at 15:21

A very important issue with respect to supplying the global rail market is that all components need to be supplied to a common standard. At present these standards are EuroNorms, and part of the really good TSI system. If HM Government wishes to disengage the UK from the European Railway Union, then all of that will be in jeopardy, including the ability to influence the development of these standards. It is equally telling that many railways across the world (including the Middle East, Japan and the US) have incorporated these very same standards as they are best-practice and now the de-facto common standard. This is not accident, as a great many of these standards were written by British engineers. And so, it is beholden on the UK rail industry to engage with the Brexit negotiators (and Mrs May) to press for continued membership of the Railway Union. Unlike all the other rules, regulations, trade tariffs and subsidy issues, the railway standards are about the laws of physics, which surprising to some, are applied equally on both sides of the Channel. If we want standards to remain written in English (and they may not, even though English the de-facto common language within the EU), then we need to remain a member.

Borislav Kostadinov   01/04/2017 at 19:29

It is very interesting how the forcasted in Rail upgrade 125,000 workers in the next 20 years will be found within the UK labour market after the Brexit... :-)

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