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The rail industry responds to Chancellor’s statement

Yesterday (July 8th) Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, announced the details of his ‘Plan for Jobs’ that will enhance the UK’s recovery from the Covid-19 outbreak.

He detailed a package of measures to support jobs, give businesses the confidence to retain and hire, and offer people the tools they need to find and secure better jobs.

Following the Chancellor’s ‘mini-budget’ announcement, Barry White, Chief Executive of Transport for the North, said: “The Chancellor’s update today is welcome news, demonstrating the Government’s will to create jobs and support economic recovery.

“The commitments to creating green jobs and supporting young workers into skilled roles are particularly essential to ensure the UK bounces back in a sustainable way. Transport and other infrastructure projects will play a vital role in making that a reality.

“We welcome the Government’s ongoing commitment to levelling up and continue to stress the need for confirmed funding for a Northern Infrastructure Pipeline of road and rail projects, including the delivery of HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail in full. It is vital that the Spending Review and National Infrastructure Strategy later this year set out a sustained pipeline of investment to breathe life into our Northern economy and form the bedrock of job creation, closing the productivity gap.”

Darren Caplan, Chief Executive of the Railway Industry Association, also responded: “Although today’s plan set out a strong strategy for job retention, many in the railway industry will be disappointed that Chancellor Rishi Sunak didn’t mention anything about new rail infrastructure in his speech.

“The Government has said it is seeking to ‘build build build’ and has recently spoken of an ‘infrastructure revolution’, calling publicly for shovel-ready projects to help reboot a green economy post-Coronavirus. Yet, we are concerned that no accelerated rail infrastructure projects were mentioned today, such as those in the Government’s own list of 58 rail enhancement schemes directly within its power to speed up.

“The Chancellor specifically unveiled a ‘Plan for Jobs’, yet in the current circumstances few sectors can generate jobs and GVA as quickly as rail. UK rail has kept going throughout lockdown, enabled key workers to get to workplaces, and has shown it can continue to safely maintain and build track and train even in difficult lockdown conditions, essential to the UK’s connectivity and levelling-up agenda.

“So, whilst we and rail supply businesses will welcome the Chancellor’s job retention measures, we will continue to campaign for the Treasury to ‘Speed Up Rail Enhancements’, benefiting not just the railway industry, but also UK plc, its communities and long-term connectivity in the difficult months ahead.”


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