First train over SAS 13 bridge, image via Network Rail

Broken promises as RNEP has not been updated for over 1,000 days

The DfT’s RNEP - the Rail Network Enhancements Pipeline (RNEP) showing the status of rail enhancement schemes at different stages of development – was last published over 1,000 days ago, despite the Government promising to update it annually. The initial RNEP was published on 21 October 2019, with the 1,000-day milestone passed on Sunday 17 July this year.

This milestone has been reached despite repeated assurances by Ministers that the RNEP would be published imminently:

16 September 2020, then Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris confirmed that, "The Rail Network Enhancements Pipeline showing the status of rail enhancement schemes at different stages of development will be published on an annual basis. An update of this will be published following the Spending Review [of that year]."

24 May 2021, Transport Minister in the House of Lords, Baroness Vere of Norbiton: “I reassure the House that the RNEP—which sets out which projects the Government will take forward over what sort of timeframe—will be published soon, and that will set out all the schemes under consideration.”

24 November 2021, then Major Rail Projects Minister Andrew Stephenson: “… we have more announcements to come… along with the Rail Network Enhancements Pipeline, which will also be published separately.”

3 March 2022, Rail Minister Wendy Morton: “The Department [DfT] remains committed to publishing the Rail Network Enhancements Pipeline (RNEP) update, which will reflect the significant investment that is taking place across England and Wales… The publication of the RNEP will confirm these plans shortly.”

20 June 2022, Andrew Stephenson: “... RNEP will be published soon”

30 June 2022, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps: “We will be publishing the RNEP shortly.”

30 June 2022, Wendy Morton: “We remain committed to publishing the RNEP update…. We will set out our plans shortly.”

13 July 2022, Baroness Norton of Vere: “… the RNEP document will be published shortly…”

Darren Caplan, Chief Executive of the Railway Industry Association (RIA), said:

 “It is incredibly disappointing to see this 1,000 day milestone being passed, when it comes to updating and communicating the Rail Network Enhancements Pipeline. Despite repeated reassurances from several Ministers that the pipeline of rail enhancements projects would be published ‘annually’, or ‘soon’, or ‘shortly’, it is still almost three years since the first RNEP was published in October 2019, and we still don’t know the Government’s thinking on the rail schemes included in the pipeline.

“Already, the delay to these plans has resulted in at least £1bn being cut from the rail enhancements budget to March 2024, so we do need to get on with these projects. If the DfT is not in a position to publish a national update, for whatever reason, RIA and the rail supply sector would welcome engaging in dialogue on how plans can be taken forward at a local level.

“Rail suppliers appreciate there are pandemic and economic related challenges. But if the Government wants to secure the best possible value for money on rail spending it does need to give more certainty and confidence, so that businesses can plan and invest for the future, given the long-term and complex nature of railway infrastructure projects. At the very least, there needs to be more communication with the supply chain about enhancements projects.”

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