An aerial view of the Chappel and Wakes Colne viaduct in the English county of Essex, via Istock

RIA takes RNEP into its own hands

The Rail Network Enhancements Pipeline (RNEP), created in 2019, was billed as a ‘new approach for rail proposals’ as it would provide a certainty and transparency through the annual publication of a pipeline of enhancement projects in England and Wales. However, this was a short-lived pledge as today marks the three-year anniversary of the original publication, with no further iterations released.

Since the last publication, there have been a major reduction in the CP6 rail enhancement budget, where the lack of any subsequent update has equated to considerable rail supply sector uncertainty and concern. To tackle this instability within the supply sector, the RIA has, today, published its own RNEP, based on the publicly available information available, to create more understanding of enhancement projects to its members.

The trade association have rated all existing 58 projects that were included in the original RNEP, labelling each one either red, amber, or green, based on:

  • Green: scheme is complete, under construction or there is public information confirming that the project will be delivered.
  • Amber: public information suggests the project development is progressing, but there is not yet certainty it will be delivered. In practice this usually means that the project is progressing towards a Strategic Outline Business Case or an Outline Business Case; and
  • Red: no information about the status of the project; or there is a large amount of uncertainty over whether it is progressing.

Of These 58 projects, the RIA found that there are:

  • 18 Green projects.
  • 21 Amber projects; and
  • 19 Red

There are a further eight projects that were not included within the 2019 RNEP, but were subsequently announced, including some major schemes such as Midland Main Line Electrification and the Integrated Rail Plan for the North and Midlands.

Commenting, RIA’s Chief Executive Darren Caplan said:

“21 October marks three years since the first and last publication of the Rail Network Enhancements Pipeline, despite the Government committing to publish an annual update. This has led to a lack of visibility for rail suppliers, who are simply looking to plan and invest in their businesses and workforces to conduct the work.

“Whilst we are all aware there are difficult economic times ahead, as well as increased pressure on public spending, RIA and our members are simply asking for visibility on what the Government is planning on rail enhancements projects – we are not lobbying on budgets. Real jobs, investment and even tax revenues from the rail supply sector rely on understanding the Government’s intentions.

“So, RIA has conducted its own analysis of the RNEP on behalf of its members, which shows a mixed picture. We respectfully ask the DfT to also have a look at our analysis, and to let the rail supply sector know the progress of the projects in it as soon as possible. It is welcome that many RNEP projects are actually being completed or progressing, but a clear matter of concern that there has been no update on almost half of these schemes since 2019.

“Ultimately, this uncertainty is holding back the supply sector’s potential to deliver both economic growth around the UK and also improvements for passengers and freight customers, key objectives for the Government.”

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