In a previous article, the Railway Industry Association (RIA) highlighted that a ‘summer of uncertainty’ for the rail industry was on the way if the Government’s Transport Decarbonisation Plan, Rail Enhancements Pipeline (RNEP) and Integrated Rail Plan (IRP) for the Midlands & North did not get published before parliamentary recess.
As the House of Commons rise today for summer, the RNEP and IRP have still not been released, regardless of repeated suggestions in the first half of the year that they would be. The Transport Decarbonisation Plan however, was published earlier this month, and has been welcomed by RIA.
Darren Caplan, Chief Executive of RIA, said “without seeing the details of enhancement schemes around the country, and the Government’s plan for the railways in the north and midlands, rail suppliers of all types and sizes simply will not be able to prepare their teams, resources and business plans over the summer.”
The RNEP - a list of planned rail upgrades- has not been published in almost 2 years, and although it was thought that this would happen yearly, the delay has meant that at least £1.5b has been cut from the rail enhancements budget. This is because funds are given back to the Government if not used.
The Chief Executive continued, “similarly, the delay to the IRP has seen work halted just this week on HS2’s Eastern Leg, and Transport for the North have reported they expect it to delay the delivery of Northern Powerhouse Rail by a year.”
RIA made clear that they can sympathise with the Government on how difficult the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has been on budgets, but there is insufficient information on what they intend to do next.
He added, “this lack of certainty and visibility makes it more difficult to build and enhance the UK’s railway network as efficiently and cost-effectively as it otherwise could.”
“This ‘summer of uncertainty’ will not help rail suppliers as they seek to deliver a world-class railway network to the timescale and budget the Government wants for the years ahead. We hope by the time Parliament returns, the Government provides the railway industry with the visibility it needs so that ultimately rail businesses can play their part in supporting the economic growth, jobs and investment the UK requires to bounce back from the Coronavirus pandemic.”