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Supply chain leaders confirm pledge to double rail exports by 2025

The Rail Supply Group (RSG) has set out concrete plans to rejuvenate the country’s supply chain to be “more competitive, productive and sustainable” over the next decade.

Co-chaired by transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin MP, Alstom MD Terence Watson and business secretary Sajid Javid MP, the RSG has published its long-term strategy plan to improve procurement and planning and accelerate innovations. This includes a pledge to double exports by 2025, a vision the group first set out last year.

Terence Watson said: “The opportunities in the rail industry right now and into the foreseeable future are vast, with HS2 on the way as well as other much needed investments in upgrades, signalling and electrification.

“But just to build these projects and then pack up at the end would miss the point. As an industry we must use them to kick-start a new wave of UK manufacturing and exporting prowess, maximising the benefit to UK PLC. That’s why we are pledging today to work together to double the industry’s export volumes, drive economic growth and create thousands of new jobs and apprenticeships across the country.”

Doubling export volumes and values by 2025 will be accomplished by working closely with the government to stimulate inward investment, but also to improve access to foreign markets and investors, the group’s report said.

The RSG is also pledging to attract more talent, harness the innovation of SMEs to meet the needs of the rail market, be a global leader in high-speed rail and stimulate entrepreneurialism in the supply chain.

Part of these goals includes delivering a strategic approach to procurement and planning in order to create better market conditions for growth.

“We need greater and more reliable visibility of planned investments from government and customers, which will allow suppliers to increase their own investment in long-term production infrastructure and training, and to nurture the UK supply chain,” the report said.

The group also outlined a clear plan to drive world-class UK technologies, particularly by working with the rail industry and suppliers of all sizes to provide greater confidence to invest in new products and services.

The five key areas of technology to be prioritised under today’s strategy include advanced control, energy management, high-value rolling stock systems, whole-life asset optimisation and through life management, and customer experience.

The report listed examples of where close collaboration is helping reinvigorate the national supply chain, including major projects within the Northern Powerhouse and Midlands Engine for Growth, HS2 and the National Training Academy for Rail.

To generate more opportunities like these, RSG members promised to “raise the profile of the industry”, attracting 20,000 new apprentices through training incentives and quality facilities as a result.

“A strong rail sector supply chain is essential for our future productivity and the commitment to take on 20,000 new apprentices will provide opportunities for our young people to start successful careers in this vital sector,” said Sajid Javid.

It also promised to work closely with the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) to co-ordinate progress in the rail industry as a whole.

RDG chief Paul Plummer said: “The UK rail supply chain is key to our economy beyond the critical contribution it makes directly to Britain’s railway. We are therefore pleased to be working with RSG both to help its work in support of the UK rail supply chain and to improve supply chain input to RDG work on the future of our railway.”

The group will review its strategy every three years, but in the meantime will keep working with a full range of groups to ensure it remains relevant in the context of the growing industry.

The strategy was welcomed by the High Speed Rail Industry Leaders group. A spokesperson said: "The Rail Supply Group and TISS reports in recent days mark a significant step forward in the development of a rail industry skills strategy.

"There is nothing of greater importance to the sector than developing our people. The RSG strategy today identifies high-speed rail as a cross-cutting theme. There is no greater opportunity to demonstrate that rail can be a high-technology and advanced industry and we should use the development of HS2 as a catalyst to invest in our skills base and transform perception of the railways, attracting once again the brightest and the best to the careers it can offer.

"The TISS report identified the need for rail to provide around 5,000 apprenticeships per year. We believe high speed rail can deliver a significant proportion of these, and in particular a large number of the more highly skilled roles required.”

(Top image c. Rail Supply Group)


Martin Hogan   09/02/2016 at 15:50

the industry seems to be changing its approach from having a supply chain with no technical knowledge and wanting to have project managers that didn't complain about projects being late. Over the years, I have found the supply chain spectatularly bad, from expecting projects to be late and over budget to not having a clue what their suppliers are doing because they don't have any technical knowledge. I hope we can expect improvements but from the ludicrous comments about HS2, I have serious doubts, this is almost certainly more bluster over substance. With my over 30 years technical experience with leading global corporations, I have seen little substansive over the past decade in the rail industry, which is why it is a primarily non UK operation

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